The Estate of Kobe Bryant has entered into a new long-term contract with Nike to continue producing shoes and apparel from Bryant’s Zoom Kobe series, Vanessa Bryant and Nike announced Thursday.
The news comes nearly a year after Kobe Bryant’s original deal with Nike expired.
“We are delighted to announce that our partnership with Nike will continue!” Vanessa Bryant, Bryant’s widow, 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.”
Vanessa Bryant previously said she was parting ways with Nike over money and shoe availability issues. The previous contract ended in April 2021 after Vanessa reportedly sought a “lifetime” contract, similar to those LeBron James and Michael Jordan have.
Nearly 20% of NBA players have worn a Nike Kobe sneaker for at least one game since Bryant died with his daughter, Gianna, and seven others in a January 2020 helicopter crash, according to Nike. from Calabasas. During the 2019-20 season, 102 of the total 322 players participating in the league’s restart in the Orlando bubble wore Kobe sneakers.
Nike says it hopes to provide young athletes with access to youth sports, with several global initiatives planned to honor Bryant’s legacy.
“Kobe Bryant means so much to many of us, not just NBA fans, but beyond the game globally,” Nike President and CEO John Donahoe said in a statement. . “His impact in the growth of the sport, particularly encouraging women and young people to play it, endures as one of his deepest and most enduring legacies. Together with Vanessa, we hope to honor Kobe and Gigi by championing a new generation for many years to come.
In addition to reissues of the 11 iconic Kobe shoes worn by the Lakers star during his career, and potentially his six post-career models, Nike is also announcing the launch of a new series of Gigi Bryant shoes, with a charitable component.
“With this new partnership, fans will soon be able to access Kobe and Gigi Nike merchandise for years to come,” said Vanessa Bryant. “Nikes [is] donating 100% of annual net proceeds from Gianna’s shoes to our Mamba and Mambacita Sports Foundation (M&MSF).
According to Nike, the first iteration of the renewed partnership could arrive as early as May 1, which would have been Gianna Bryant’s 16th birthday. Designed in the colors of the black and white “Mamba Ballers” team uniform of “Gigi”, with gold accents, this shoe was originally produced just before the expiration of the last contract and has no never been officially released.
“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.”
During stalled talks leading up to the expiration of the previous deal last year, Bryant’s estate wanted Nike to expand Kobe’s shoes to include kids’ sizes. Another key to the renewed partnership was Nike’s commitment to launch a new basketball facility in Bryant’s name.
“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.
“I know this is an inspiring moment for my husband and daughter’s global fans,” Vanessa Bryant said. “And I’m very grateful to each and every one of you!”
There’s no official word on when the Kobe line will return to retailers and Nike’s online store, but as the company was in production on a few retros last year when the previous contract expired, there will surely have a lot of motivation to resume production of the popular products quickly.
Kobe joined Nike in 2003 after a short stint at Adidas.