Vanessa Bryant slams Nike over unauthorized release of Kobe shoe

Los Angeles, California – Vanessa Bryant is throwing some shade Nike's way after an unlicensed version of a shoe she designed with the company made its way across social media.

Vanessa Bryant helped design the MAMBACITA shoe with Nike (l.) in honor of her late daughter Gigi, but never approved them for sale. An artist recently honored her and her late husband (r.).
Vanessa Bryant helped design the MAMBACITA shoe with Nike (l.) in honor of her late daughter Gigi, but never approved them for sale. An artist recently honored her and her late husband (r.).  © Collage: Screenshot/Instagram/vanessabryant

A shoe that Vanessa Bryant designed to honor her late daughter Gigi and husband Kobe Bryant has made its way into the hands of sneaker heads, but it was never intended to see the light of day.

The MAMBACITA shoe design is one that Bryant holds near and dear to her heart, for obvious reasons.

When she realized an image of the sneaker was making its rounds on social media, Bryant sounded the alarm – and wanted to know how.

In an Instagram post, the 39-year-old said, "The MAMBACITA shoes are not approved for sale. I wanted it to be sold to honor my daughter with all of the proceeds benefiting our @mambamambacitasports foundation, but I did not re-sign the Nike contract and decided not to sell these shoes."

What's worse is that while some version of the sneaker is now in the hands of fast-acting consumers, Bryant said Nike hadn't sent any pairs of the MAMBACITA shoes in her family's direction.

On April 19, Bryant announced on her Instagram Story that she wouldn't be re-signing a contract with Nike, despite her hopes to "forge a lifelong partnership" with the athletic brand.

Did Nike cross a legal line?

Vanessa Bryant and her three surviving daughters have yet to get their hands on the MAMBACITA shoes even though it appears some consumers have.
Vanessa Bryant and her three surviving daughters have yet to get their hands on the MAMBACITA shoes even though it appears some consumers have.  © Screenshot/Instagram/vanessabryant

If Nike had a hand in granting any back-door access to the shoe, or somehow allowed a replica to get into the wrong hands, there could be serious legal implications to follow.

"Nike has not sent any of these pairs to me and my girls. I do not know how someone else has their hands on shoes I designed in honor of my daughter, Gigi and we don't. I hope these shoes did not get sold @nike," Bryant wrote on Instagram.

There has been much debate about the matter on social media.

In response to a screenshot of Bryant's post, shared by Ball is Life on Twitter, one user denounced the drama, saying, "With all due respect, Vanessa has no clue how cut throat the sneaker business is. All sneakers get back-doored before the general release. The resell market is insane."

But not everyone shared the same mindset on the matter. Another user tweeted, "They always doing her dirty...tf is wrong with people."

Nike has yet to comment on the MAMBACITA shoe mayhem, but it's unlikely that Bryant will let it die until her extremely valid questions are answered.

Cover photo: Collage: Screenshot/Instagram/vanessabryant

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