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Kobe Bryant's estate ends 18-year partnership with Nike

Remembering Kobe Bryant's "Mamba mentality"
Remembering Kobe Bryant's "Mamba mentality" 06:48

Kobe Bryant's contract with Nike has expired after 18 years, the company and the late NBA legend's wife Vanessa Bryant announced Monday.

"Kobe Bryant was an important part of Nike's deep connection to consumers. He pushed us and made everyone around him better," Nike said in a statement. "Though our contractual relationship has ended, he remains a deeply loved member of the Nike family."

In 2003, Bryant left Adidas and became one of the most sought-after free agents in modern sports. The Los Angeles Lakers swingman eventually signed with Nike and released 11 signature shoes with the sportswear giant. After retiring in 2016, Bryant reportedly re-signed with Nike for a five-year extension.

Kobe Bryant Nike
Kobe Bryant hosts a Nike event in Los Angeles on November 1, 2016. Allen Berezovsky / Getty

His wife, Vanessa Bryant, said the contract expired on April 13 and said she hopes all fans will be able to wear Kobe's shoes. After his death last year, resellers drove up the price of Kobe's signature shoes and flocked to Nike's limited releases of his sneakers — a common source of frustration among many basketball fans.

"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," she wrote on Instagram on Monday night. "It seems fitting that more NBA players wear my husband's product than any other signature shoe."

"My hope will always be to allow Kobe's fans to get and wear his products," she added. " I will continue to fight for that. Kobe's products sell out in seconds. That says everything."

Vanessa admitted she had hoped to form a lifelong partnership with Nike that "reflected" her husband's legacy. "We will always do everything we can to honor Kobe and Gigi's legacies."

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