Nike has confirmed that its longtime partnership with late NBA legend Kobe Bryant has come to an end.
In a statement to BoF, a spokesperson for the brand said Bryant, who died in a helicopter crash in January 2020, “was an important part of Nike’s deep connection to consumers. He pushed us and made everyone around him better.” Complex first reported the news today, citing sources who said Bryant’s estate opted not to renew the contract.
The spokesperson added that although its “contractual relationship” has ended, the basketball icon “remains a deeply loved member of the Nike family.”
Widely considered to be one of best basketball players of all time, Bryant inked a deal with the athletic behemoth in 2003 following a stint with rival brand Adidas. His 20-year career in the NBA included five championships, 18 All-Star appearances, two Finals MVP trophies and one league MVP trophy. He scored 33,643 points, the fourth most in NBA history.
Despite his massive influence on the sport of basketball, NPD sportswear analyst Matt Powell described Bryant’s sneaker sales as “middle of the pack,” noting that his jersey sales often outpaced those of his shoes. Nevertheless, Bryant’s Zoom Kobe IVs sneaker was credited by Solecollector for normalising low-top basketball shoes and the success of the shoes in China proved instrumental in helping Nike expand into the country.