Chris Pizzello/Associated Press
Nike confirmed the relationship between the two sides ended:
The contract expired April 13, per Dunne, but Nike will still release previously planned new editions of the Hall of Famer’s signature sneakers this year.
It’s unclear why Bryant’s estate decided not to renew, though Dunne reported it’s possible the sides will agree on a new deal.
Last month, TMZ Sports reported the Bryant family had filed a trademark for “Mamba and Mambacita.” An attorney representing Kobe Bryant LLC stated in the filing the trademark would be used for clothing.
Bryant died in a helicopter crash in January 2020 along with his daughter Gianna and seven others.
Dunne reported that prior to Bryant’s death the sales of his signature Nike shoes were “flagging.”
“Bryant, they say, was a low priority at Nike’s basketball division at the time, his shoes not warranting the marketing attention the brand was giving to its active NBA stars with signature lines like Giannis Antetokounmpo, Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and LeBron James,” Dunne wrote.
Dunne also pointed to a tweet from venture capitalist Shervin Pishevar, who said the 18-time All-Star was planning to leave Nike:
Shervin Pishevar @shervin
I met with Kobe Bryant in late December 2019. Kobe wasn’t happy with Nike and was going to leave it in 2020. Kobe was going to start Mamba, a shoe company owned by players. He passed away weeks later. What he was about to do in business was going to eclipse his sports career.
Immediately after Bryant’s death, interest in his Nike line surged.