Eighteen years after Kobe Bryant signed a shoe deal with Nike, it seems like one of the longest-running, most iconic sneaker lines is coming to an end. With Kobe’s five-year, post-retirement extension with Swoosh having expired earlier this month, the Kobe Bryant estate and his wife Vanessa refused to renew the partnership.
Kobe’s Nike contract expired on 4/13/21. Kobe and Nike have made some of the most beautiful basketball shoes of all time, worn and adored by fans and athletes in all sports across the globe. It seems fitting that more NBA players wear my husband’s product than any other signature shoe.Vanessa Bryant, ESPN
According to ESPN, Kobe’s wife and the estate were frustrated with Nike limiting the availability of Bryant’s products post-retirement and after the tragedy – especially Kobe’s footwear in kids’ sizes. They were looking to forge a lifelong deal with the company, and after Nike offered an extension that didn’t meet those requirements, Vanessa and the estate decided against signing an extension. It is believed they could enter negotiations with other brands to form a new partnership, while all future releases of Kobe’s products with Nike will be terminated.
Kobe Bryant was an important part of Nike’s deep connection to consumers. He pushed us and made everyone around him better. Though our contractual relationship has ended, he remains a deeply loved member of the Nike family.Nike, ESPN
Since inking a deal with Nike in ’03, Bryant became one of the company’s most prominent icons, headlining sneakers such as the Zoom Huarache 2k4 and 2k5, as well as Hyperdunks at the ’08 Olympics. Two sides also released 11 Kobe Bryant signature shoes, revolutionizing the sneaker industry after the launch of the Kobe 4 – the first low-top signature shoe.
Even after Kobe’s retirement, Nike released a series of both newly created and retro sneakers. Pre-released models were enhanced with modern constructions and technologies at Kobe’s request, making them up to par with today’s standard of build quality.
The final Nike Kobe release to date was the Nike Kobe 6 ‘Grinch‘ – shoes Bryant wore during the Lakers‘ Christmas matchup against the Heat in ’10. Limited pairs were made available only via Nike’s SNKRS app on April 13, 2021 — exactly five years since Kobe’s final NBA game. It seems the date also marked the last day of Kobe’s iconic deal with Nike.
In honor of one of the most iconic sneaker lines in NBA history, here’s the list of Kobe Bryant’s top 5 signature shoes with Swoosh: