Kyrie Irving has been a Nike ambassador since entering the NBA. His shoe line is among the top-selling sneakers of the brand, but that partnership may be at an end. A recent controversy has created tension between Irving and Nike, leading to a possible split up.
Kyrie Irving’s strong comments on leaked photos
In an Instagram post showing what could be an unofficial photo of Kyrie 8, the Brooklyn Nets star voiced his strong opinions on the matter.
“I have nothing to do with the design or marketing of the upcoming #Kyrie8, IMO these are trash!
I have Absolutely nothing to do with them!
Nike plans to release it without my okay regardless of what I say, so I apologize in advance to all of my sneaker heads and true supporters of the #KAI11 brand.”
It seems like the NBA's wokest player did not participate in the design or marketing of the posted basketball sneakers. Since it was an unofficial photo, that may be true at this stage of the development process, and Nike planned to bring Kyrie in once their idea was finished. It’s hard to think that Nike would exclude the player from the creation process of his own shoe. After all, Irving will be the one wearing it on the court; thus, his preferences on looks and comfort should be top priority.
Creating a shoe line for superstar players proves to be lucrative for both players and manufacturers. Sales fetch hundreds of millions every year, and with it comes world tour promotions and other commercial deals. Aside from an NBA salary, a player like Irving can earn as much with shoe deals as he does in The Association. However, if the leaked photos were indeed the next design and colorway of Kyrie Irving's shoes, there could be trouble brewing.
Kyrie and his controversial opinions
Irving will have no problems ending his contract with Nike and start making his own shoe line and merchandise at this point of his career. Kobe Bryant’s estate recently ended their partnership with Nike, and it could inspire other athletes to do the same - we know how close Kyrie and Kobe were. Bryant was the first person Kyrie called after winning the title in 2016.
In recent years, Irving has been the favorite subject of media companies because of his controversial opinions. The 7-time All-Star voiced his thoughts on why he thinks the earth is flat.
"All these things that particular groups, and I won't pinpoint one group, they almost offer up this education. The fact that in our lifetimes that there are so many holes and so many pockets in our history... Is the Earth flat or round? You need to do research on it... they lie to us."
Kyrie Irving, NBC Sports
He backtracked on this statement after a year. Irving has also shared his opinion on Black Lives Matter and the mental health of players. This prompted Charles Barkley to voice his own opinion on Kyrie:
“And if you want to say something about social justice, say it and mean it, because it’s important and significant. But all that other stuff? Like, yo, man, shut the hell up and talk basketball.”
Charles Barkley, SI
Who knows. While Kyrie's shoes have been a top seller for Nike, maybe they're OK with losing that revenue if it means they won't have to deal with a flat Earth and a regular dose of cryptic quasi-intellectual mumbo jumbo. Given their dominant position in the market, they can take the hit.