Nike is known for its collaborations (via Say sporty) and sponsorships from well-known athletes such as Vanessa Bryant’s late husband, Kobe. With sponsorship deals that bring in athletes up to seven figures, Nike is one of the most marketable sports brands, per Sports Pro Media.
Kobe Bryant had a deal with Nike, producing a line of sneakers that only became more coveted after his death and the expiration of his five-year contract with Nike, for example. GQ. It was a deal that some believed would evolve into a lifetime deal, similar to the one Nike has with Michael Jordan. However, despite the popularity of the shoes, that deal ended in 2021, per Silver screen and scroll.
Vanessa Bryant ended the deal with Nike because she was not happy with the brand’s marketing strategy and its refusal to offer a lifetime deal (via ESPN). Bryant said she wanted all Kobe fans to have access to the sneakers, per Complex. Tensions between Bryant and Nike were already strained before photos of Nike’s never-before-seen Protro 6 Kobe sneakers were released. Bryant criticized the brand for posting this without his consent, per CNBC. The sneakers were designed by Bryant in honor of his daughter Gianna, and she had no idea how Nike got access to their Mambacita shoe designs, for example. NPR.