By: April Carson
On Monday, Nike released a statement confirming that it has completely severed ties with Kyrie Irving, point guard of the Brooklyn Nets. This news comes after the suspension of their partnership and the cancellation of his upcoming shoe release last month. The statement cited Irving's "continuation of on-court behavior that Nike does not condone" as the primary cause for their decision. As a result, any existing Kyrie sneakers will no longer be produced and future products featuring him have been put on hold indefinitely.
"Kyrie is no longer a Nike Athlete," stated a Nike company spokesperson to ESPN. Irving's agent, Shetellia Riley Irving called the decision mutual when she said, "We have mutually decided to part ways and wish Nike the best in their future endeavors."
Irving's endorsement agreement with the company was supposed to end on Oct. 1, 2023; however, after Irving posted a link on social media that included antisemitic content, the deal was terminated 11 months early.
Nike's decision to part ways with Kyrie Irving comes in the wake of multiple controversial circumstances, such as Irving's comments on vaccine conspiracy theories and his criticism of the NBA's "bubble" setup. It is unclear what the future holds for Kyrie Irving, but it appears that Nike will not be a part of it.
Phil Knight, co-founder of Nike Inc., stated on Nov. 10 that Kyrie Irving was terminated because he crossed a line with his statements. "It's kind of that simple," said Knight on CNBC. Although disappointed, Knight accepted the decision to cut ties with Irving.
When Knight made those comments three weeks ago, everyone in the industry knew that the partnership had ended before it was supposed to.
According to data from KixStat.com, Nike sneakers are worn by around 68% of players in the NBA. Each season since the launch of the Kyrie 1, there has been an annual Kyrie model that becomes one of the most popular shoes among league players; currently 164 players have been noted as wearing Kyrie 7s during games. In addition, many players often wear lower-pricedKyrie Low models too--with some also alternating between past year's models.
Therefore, it's safe to say that Nike has been the primary beneficiary of Kyrie Irving's success on the court. The partnership helped both parties, as Nike was able to use Irving's popularity to market their brand and products while he earned additional income from his shoe deals.
Sources told ESPN that the brand is not anticipated to tell or ask current NBA players to stop wearing Kyrie-branded shoes, given that it is midseason and players have always enjoyed the comfort and performance of the Irving series when playing.
Irving being a sneaker free agent now gives him the opportunity to sign an endorsement deal with any brand of his choosing. The contract's termination comes well before its scheduled 2023 expiration, providing Irving with plenty of time to find a new brand partner.
In 2011, Irving signed with Nike as a rookie, and in 2014 he became just the 20th NBA player to receive his own signature sneaker from the company. The Kyrie series has become one of the most popular lines in Nike's basketball line, selling out almost immediately after being released each time.
Irving's annual signature Kyrie shoe line, as well as the lower-priced Kyrie Low and Kyrie Flytrap models, have made Irving one of the industry's best-selling player franchises. In fact, it was only second to LeBron James' signature series in recent years.
"I consider anyone who has [ever] spent their hard-earned money on anything I have ever released to be part of my FAMILY," Irving tweeted on Monday. "It's time to show how powerful we are as a community."
It is unclear what the long-term ramifications of this will be for Irving's signature shoe line but it does signal a shift in the basketball landscape. This could mark the start of a new trend of players leaving their former shoe sponsors and going independent or signing with other brands. It could also open up opportunities for smaller companies to sign marquee athletes and make a name for themselves in the world of basketball.
Regardless, this news is sure to send shockwaves throughout the industry and keep shoe companies on their toes as they look to secure their biggest stars. Only time will tell how Irving's decision will ultimately shape the future of basketball footwear and sponsorship.
4biddenKnowledge and Secrets of Ancient History – Billy Carson and Matthew LaCroix
About the Blogger:
April Carson is the daughter of Billy Carson. She received her bachelor's degree in Social Sciences from Jacksonville University, where she was also on the Women's Basketball team. She now has a successful clothing company that specializes in organic baby clothes and other items. Take a look at their most popular fall fashions on bossbabymav.com
To read more of April's blogs, check out her website! She publishes new blogs on a daily basis, including the most helpful mommy advice and baby care tips! Follow on IG @bossbabymav
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