Kyrie Irving had been a fixture at Nike for years since getting his first signature shoe in 2014. He’s consistently been one of the brand’s top sellers.
And then the company chose to suspend his line.
Irving had his contract suspended by Nike last month after he retweeted the link to a video peddling antisemitic content and refused to apologize for it. Fast forward to today, his deal with the company is completely clipped. Not only is he not a signature athlete with Nike anymore, but he’s not a Nike athlete at all.
The brand officially terminated its deal with Irving on Monday. This is something that has rarely been seen in the sneaker world — there are only a few cases of brands cutting high-profile athletes. But it’s hardly unexpected.
Nike co-founder and chairman emeritus Phil Knight said the brand probably wouldn’t work with Irving ever again. He doesn’t necessarily make decisions for the company anymore, but he certainly has a ton of sway. So it makes plenty of sense that things have gone this far.
Now, we’ve also got Irving’s first public reaction to the news and it comes in the form of his old signature sneakers.
Irving completely taped over the Nike logo on his Kyrie 3 signature sneakers and wrote “I am free. Thank you God. I am free,” on one sneaker and wrote “Logo here” on the other.
It was certainly an odd look.
Kyrie’s shoes tonight. 👀
— Hoop Central (@TheHoopCentral) December 8, 2022
Looks like Irving is officially done with Nike. Nike is done with him, too.
They’ve already identified Ja Morant as the next athlete in line for a signature model, effectively having him take Irving’s slot on Nike’s very small roster.
For Irving’s end of things, he’s officially a sneaker free agent. It’s just like the NBA — he’s available on the open market to sign with whatever brand he wants. The question is which brands would want to touch him right now and, honestly, the answer to that might be few and far between.
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