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RUMOR: Lakers’ Kobe Bryant’s Nike deal takes shocking, sad turn after expiration

Kobe Bryant, Lakers, Nike

Nike may soon stop its release of the Kobe Bryant signature line. The late NBA icon’s estate has reportedly not renewed its contract with the sporting giant which expired last April 13, per Brendan Dunne of COMPLEX. 

This could mark an end of an era for the Nike-Bryant partnership, which began in 2003 and continued upon his retirement from basketball and untimely passing.

According to the report, the sales of Bryant’s shoe line declined after he retired in 2016. Nike also opted to give a stringer push to signature shoes of its active NBA stars including LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Giannis Antetokounmpo, and Kyrie Irving.

Prior to his death in January last year, Kobe Bryant reportedly was leaning on leaving Nike and starting his own sneaker company called Mamba. Venture capitalist Shervin Pishevar even revealed that he met up with the five-time NBA champion and discussed some shoe mockups,

After starting his career as an ambassador for Adidas, Kobe Bryant move to Nike in ’03 and partnered with them for a total of 11 signature Kobe shoes. Nike pulled back the release of some of his shoes upon his death, but eventually brought back old models as retros, which of course, was a big hit among millions of Bryant fans.

Nike’s website, however, indicates the release of more Kobe shoes this year, which probably would be the last batch. This includes a re-stock of the famous “Grinch” Kobe 6, a Christmas-themed shoe that was initially released in 2010 and was sold once more last year.

If reports are true, re-sellers would probably go crazy in copping those soon-to-be phased-out Kobe Bryant Nike shoes.

*UPDATE: Nike has released a statement confirming the end of its contractual relationship with Kobe Bryant’s estate, per Shams Charania of The Athletic: