Explaining Nike’s New Deal With Kobe Bryant’s Estate And What It Means For Sneakerheads
Vanessa Bryant and Nike have reached a new agreement to continue Kobe Bryant’s legacy with the sports giant.
The two parties announced a new deal on Thursday to create apparel that will honor the legacy of her late husband and daughter, Gianna.
Los Angeles Lakers legend Bryant and eight others, including his 13-year-old daughter, Gigi, died in a January 2020 helicopter crash in California.
“We are delighted to announce that our partnership with Nike will continue!” Vanessa wrote in an Instagram post. “I am so proud that my husband’s shoes are still the most worn by players on the NBA courts and that the demand for his shoes remains so desired by his fans around the world.”
The news comes a year after Bryant’s estate with Nike expired. Bryant originally signed with the company in 2003 after being with Adidas and has become one of Nike’s most iconic faces. His legacy has only continued to sail through the sport.
According to ESPN, nearly 20% of NBA players have worn Bryant’s sneakers in a game since his passing. During the 2019-20 NBA season, 67% of NBA Bubble athletes wore Kobe sneakers.
This new situation is not only important in the world of basketball, but in sports culture. It’s a huge sigh of relief because it almost took an entirely different direction for Nike and its customers. Let’s see what this agreement means and why it is so important for sports fans.
Alright, so what happened?
Last April, Nike’s sponsorship deal with the Bryant estate was not renewed and the long-standing partnership with the basketball star came to an end. The decision not to renew was made by Vanessa, Bryant’s widow.
The months surrounding the expiration of Bryant’s deal with the company were chaotic to say the least and shone a light on why this was likely going to be the outcome.
After Bryant’s tragic death, all of his sneakers and clothes sold out everywhere. Nike would continue to release more products from Bryant, but quantities were extremely limited and almost impossible to obtain. Considering the rarity, the resale prices of his items were also ridiculous.
It was reported for months that Vanessa and the estate were frustrated with Nike due to the limited availability of Kobe’s sneakers during his retirement (Bryant had a five-year post-retirement contract with Nike) and after his death. There was also frustration over the limited availability of Kobe’s products for kids, according to Nick DePaula’s ESPN report.
“My hope will always be to allow Kobe fans to get and wear his products,” Vanessa wrote in an Instagram post. “I will continue to fight for this. Kobe products sell out in seconds. That says it all.
Vanessa later slammed Nike over an unreleased shoe she worked on with the company to honor Gigi that leaked on the internet.
This ended partnership was almost a huge loss for basketball fans everywhere. Bryant’s brand of items at Nike was among the most coveted due to his heritage, and no one had access to it. This brings us to the next point…
So what has changed?
According to ESPN, Nike did bid to extend the Bryant estate in 2021 but it wasn’t what they were looking for. Their goal was to strike a lifetime deal structure similar to the one LeBron James and Cristiano Ronaldo have with the company.
This new offering from Nike fits that bill. This aligns with the goal and vision Vanessa had for Kobe and Gigi’s legacy. As …
What does the new contract look like?
Nike plans to re-release 11 of the iconic Kobe designs worn by Bryant on the court, with potentially his six post-career designs as well, according to ESPN. They will also launch a series of Gigi Bryant shoes, where 100% of Gianna’s annual shoe net proceeds will go directly to the Mamba and Mambacita Sports Foundation.
Additionally, a key part of the new deal is Nike’s commitment to start a new youth basketball facility in Bryant’s name. It will open in California.
“I am also grateful that Nike and I are working together to create a youth basketball center in Southern California that will share the Mamba mentality with young athletes for generations to come,” Vanessa Bryant wrote.
But will the new shoes and equipment be accessible to everyone?
That’s the big question here. Neither side has commented on the number of products and how they plan to ensure more basketball fans have access to Bryant’s gear. How will the updates unfold? Will anything be different? The new agreement aligns with most of the values demanded by the Bryant estate, but how will it address accessibility?
Answering this question is especially important, as Nike is notoriously notorious for its horrible SNKRS app and limited access to high-demand kicks. And the result of this is that it unfairly drives up the price of their products for customers.
All of that is unlikely to change. Think of it this way: when was the last time Nike made a high-demand sneaker that was so widely available and accessible to customers? I’m not sure Nike will be willing to alter their plans to make merchandise accessible when they thrive on limited quantities.
It stinks. So when will the new Kobe gear rollout begin?
Nike says the first version of the new deal could arrive by May 1, which is Gigi’s 16th birthday.
“The first new shoe from the partnership, the Kobe 6 Protro ‘Mambacita Sweet 16’ will pay homage to Gigi Bryant,” Nike said in a statement. “All proceeds from the shoe will benefit the Mamba and Mambacita Sports Foundation.”
Release information will be announced at a later date, Nike said.
While new sneaker production processes can take more than a year, many Kobe sneakers are accessible for factory production sooner than that now that a new contract with Kobe Bryant’s estate is in place, a reported ESPN. It’s awesome. While many new products will take a bit of time, the classics should arrive sooner.
So how should I feel about all of this?
Although the commercial side and accessibility are uncertain, there is no doubt that Kobe and basketball fans should be excited about it. With how long the deal is now in place, the odds you can possibly take Something of the Bryant line is a bit taller. It’s still something Nike and the Bryant estate need to work out, but until then, it’s good to know they’ve worked out their differences and will be back making some legendary gear. It’s a win for sneakerheads and something to be thankful for.