Photos: Getty Images; brandon1an/Instagram

UPDATED June 4th, 2021

The Vanessa Bryant vs. Nike saga continues. Although Vanessa Bryant formally ended her partnership with Nike in April, it appears the shoe retailer is still attempting to profit off the Kobe brand.

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On Thursday, Vanessa Bryant revealed that Nike is attempting to sell an unauthorized Mambacita shoe that Vanessa herself designed in honor of her late daughter, Gigi. According to Vanessa, Nike is doing this without her approval or prior knowledge.

Vanessa Bryant posted a fiery message to Nike on her social media pages. Bryant shared a photo of someone holding a pair of black-and-white Nike shoes. The shoe noticeably had a No. 2 decal on its side. The other shoe in the background had a large “M’ on its back with the name “Gigi” printed underneath.

Along with the photo, Vanessa Bryant posted a message. “This is a shoe I worked on in honor of my daughter, Gianna,” she wrote. “It was going to be called the MAMBACITA shoe as an exclusive black and white colorway on her daddy’s shoes.”

She continued: “I picked the colors in honor of her uniform, the number 2 she wore just like her uniform, the inside pattern, Kobe and Gigi on the back in gold instead of Kobe’s signature, the inside shoe details (butterfly, wings, halo), etc.”

“The MAMBACITA shoes are NOT approved for sale,” she wrote. “I wanted it to be sold to honor my daughter with ALL of the proceeds benefitting our @mambamambacitasports foundation, but I did not re-sign the Nike contract and decided not to sell these shoes.”

via brandon1an/Instagram

“I do not know how someone else has their hands on the shoes I designed for my daughter, Gigi and we don’t,” she wrote. “I hope these shoes do not get sold.”

She also wrote in the caption: “In the 2nd photo, it appears someone already has Gigi’s MAMBACITA shoe in their possession. If someone can share how they have these shoes in their possession, that would be great because my daughters and I don’t have any of Gigi’s MAMBACITA shoes.”

Another Instagram user named @brandon1an also posted a “first look” image of the so-called Mambacita shoes. He claimed that the shoe will be available in “Summer 2021”.

But in a statement, the sneaker blogger said that he did not own the shoes, he has just seen images. “I just want to make it clear that I don’t own a pair of those Mambacita Kobes,” @brandon1an said. “The pictures I posted are official product pictures from a Nike authorized retailer. Unfortunately for [Vanessa Bryant], Nike clearly sent pairs to this retailer (as well as others) with the intent of selling pairs.”

We have no idea how the Vanessa Bryant/Nike feud will play out, but we have a feeling it will probably end in court.


Original, Below, April 21st, 2021

On Tuesday, Kobe Bryant’s widow, Vanessa Bryant announced that she chose not to renew the Bryant estate’s contract with Nike. Nike will no longer release Kobe products. Vanessa Bryant took to Twitter to announce the news.

In a statement, Vanessa Bryant said that she had been “hoping to forge a lifelong partnership with Nike that reflects my husband’s legacy.” But apparently, the brand didn’t want to play ball.

“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,” Vanessa said. “It seems fitting that more NBA players wear my husband’s product than any other signature shoe.”

She continued: “My hope will always be to allow Kobe’s fans to get and wear his products. I will continue to fight for that. Kobe’s products sell out in seconds. That says everything. I was hoping to forge a lifelong partnership with Nike that reflects my husband’s legacy. We will always do everything we can to honor Kobe and Gigi’s legacies. That will never change.”

To some fans, Vanessa’s statement left them feeling like the Bryant estate and Nike ended on less-than-friendly terms.

The specific language Vanessa used in the statement betrayed the fact that Nike didn’t offer the Bryant estate the contract that they had been hoping for. The fact that she said she had been “hoping to form a lifelong partnership” and she will “fight” for Kobe’s fans means that Nike fell short of her expectations.

Per ESPN, Nike presented Vanessa with a contract that “was not in line” with similar contracts they had offered comparable players, like Michael Jordan and LeBron James. So basically, Nike was trying to lowball Vanessa and the Bryant estate.

Insiders say that another reason that Vanessa declined to renew the partnership was because Nike was slacking on the Kobe line.

For a while now, customers have been struggling to find Kobe footwear products on the open market. Instead, they’ve been forced to buy the products at super-marked-up resell markets.

Also per ESPN: “Bryant and the estate had grown frustrated with Nike limiting the availability of Kobe products during his retirement and after his January 2020 death in a helicopter crash. There was also frustration with the lack of availability of Kobe footwear in kids’ sizes, according to sources.”

For the most part, Kobe fans rallied around Vanessa Bryant’s decision not to renew a partnership with Nike.

According to rumblings on Twitter, it appears that Nike was profiting off of Kobe Bryant’s death because of the large uptick in in sales after his death.