It was announced that the contract between Nike and Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant had expired earlier this month. The news came as a surprise to many as Kobe’s shoes are some of the most popular basketball shoes in the world.
The company had continued to release new Kobe shoes after his passing and you are almost guaranteed to see a pair of his shoes on the court when tuning in to any NBA game. Unfortunately, Nike and Kobe’s widow, Vanessa Bryant, were unable to come to an agreement on a contract extension, making the Bryant estate a sneaker free agent for the first time in almost 20 years.
One player who regularly wears Kobe shoes is Lakers guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, who expressed surprise at the announcement. “First of all, I’ll probably get a couple more pairs before they stop selling them or Nike stop doing whatever,” the guard noted. “But the reaction that I had was I was shocked. I didn’t think that would happen.
“I don’t know anything behind that. I saw it and I was a little shocked.”
Caldwell-Pope expressed the same sentiment as many others when this news broke. Bryant’s shoes were treasured, by players and fans alike and being a part of Nike always seemed like a foregone conclusion. Reportedly, the reason the two sides were unable to come to an agreement was that Vanessa was asking for a lifetime deal with the shoe giant, much like those of Michael Jordan and LeBron James.
The split does not mean an end to Kobe’s shoes as a whole, however, and now any number of companies will likely be lining up to continue on that part of his legacy.
Vanessa Bryant explains decision to move on from Nike
Both Nike and Vanessa spoke on the news of the split with Nike releasing a statement saying Kobe “remains a deeply loved member of the Nike family.” As far as the Bryant side of things, Vanessa maintains that she will do whatever she can to honor the legacies of her husband Kobe and daughter Gigi.
Vanessa told ESPN that she had hoped for a lifetime partnership with Nike. But also added that she will continue to fight to allow Kobe’s fans to continue to wear his products and noted the fact that his gear always sells out immediately.
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