You can almost hear the collective sigh of relief from a ton of NBA players around the league who wear Kobe Bryant’s Nike sneakers on-court.
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Almost 12 months after Bryant’s deal with Nike expired, his estate and his wife, Vanessa Bryant, have agreed to a new deal with the sportswear giant to continue their partnership.
Vanessa Bryant made the announcement via her Instagram page, stating that the two sides had come to an agreement on a deal that will allow Kobe-branded Nike products to hit the shelves once again, along with Gigi Bryant-branded Nike products as well.
In addition, Nike will donate 100 percent of the net proceeds of the sales of Gianna’s shoes to the Mamba and Mambacita Sports Foundation (M&MSF).
The partnership between Nike and the Kobe Bryant estate will continue, per Vanessa Bryant 💜🐍💛 pic.twitter.com/Vb3VgVK1gp— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) March 24, 2022
The Bryant estate and Nike will also work together to establish a youth basketball center in Southern California that will share the Mamba Mentality with youth athletes for future generations.
Kobe Bryant had signed with Adidas in 1996 when he entered the NBA, but signed with Nike in 2003 once his deal with the German brand expired.
Nike believed that Bryant’s appeal went beyond retirement, extending his deal with the company on the day of his final NBA game in 2016. Vanessa Bryant elected not to renew the deal when it expired in Apr. 21, reportedly growing frustrated with Nike limiting the availability of Kobe products during his retirement, and the ack of availability of Kobe footwear in kids' sizes.
“My hope will always be to allow Kobe’s fans to get and wear his products,” she wrote on a social media post at the time. “Kobe’s products sell out in seconds. That says everything.”
Despite no new Nike branded Kobe shoes being produced, many NBA players still preferred to hoop in the Lakers icon’s shoes this season, with the Kobe 5 and 6 being the two most popular models worn on-court in 2021-22.
The Kobe 4 came in as the 13th most worn shoe this season as well.
Earlier this season, much was made of NBA players trying to source and hoard Kobe’s sneakers, with many resorting to paying a premium on the secondary market. Now it appears likely they won’t have to do that anymore.