DM Kicks: Is This the End of the Nike Kyrie Era?

There’s still hope that Kyrie Irving and Nike could reach an agreement to prolong their partnership.

Brooklyn Nets superstar Kyrie Irving has been with Nike since 2014 — a partnership that boasts eight signature pairs released under the main signature line. To no one’s surprise, the Nike Kyrie line, thanks to the popularity that Irving has gained on and off the court, has been a consistent contributor to the brand’s success over the years. 

In fact, the shoe line cracks the top list of sneakers laced up by players every season. During the 2020-2021 NBA season, there were 49 players who donned Nike Kyrie sneakers, which came second only to the 114 players who laced up the Kobe Bryant signature sneakers. 

The Nike Kyrie line — with its trail-blazing aesthetics and excellent court performance — was able to build a sneaker empire of its own. However, recent news broke that Nike is already leaning towards the cessation of the seven-time All-Star’s signature shoes, starting in 2023. 

Changing sneaker brands is not new in the NBA landscape

Well, it is not uncommon for NBA stars to switch brands especially if there are various factors to consider. After all, sneaker deals work with a contract and they are bound to end unless, of course, an athlete is given the opportunity to sign a lifetime contract.

Besides, even some of the biggest names in the basketball world like Kobe Bryant, Dwayne Wade, James Harden, Russell Westbrook, and Klay Thompson, to name a few, jumped sneaker wagons at some point in their career even though their reasons for a change of scenery might vary.

Take Kobe as an example. Prior to his sneaker empire with Nike, the late Lakers legend was set for stardom under the German brand, Adidas. However, the relationship between the two parties fell apart when the brand released a signature pair that was bound to fail. 

While this was quite a unique scenario, some stars just opted for a much better contract and better benefits, while some went after a brand that could potentially produce a signature line for them. 

What could be the reason why Nike and Kyrie could part ways?

In Irving’s case, there could be numerous reasons why Nike is willing to part ways with an endorser whose sneakers are obviously off-the-charts both in performance and in sales. 

Remember that prior to the release of the Nike Kyrie 8, the 30-year-old shifty guard went on an Instagram tirade and called the pair “thrash” and claimed that he had nothing to do with the design. 

Eventually, with constant communication between Nike and Irving, the design was fixed, and the pair was successfully released. Nonetheless, the leading brand did not openly claim that the incident was the main issue for the potential breakup. 

More importantly, there is still plenty of time to talk things over between the two parties and make the relationship reparable which may, later on, proceed to a new deal. After all, it is pretty obvious that Irving is one of the most charismatic players today and a lot of ballers worldwide are head over heels for his signature shoes. The Nike Kyrie line presents a pretty good market, indeed. 

Fans may also take into consideration that despite the delays and disputes, the Kobe estate and Nike have recently reached a new deal. So, a sneaker contract extension is still plausible and the continuation of the Nike Kyrie series might take place for Irving. 

Is there another way for Kyrie to stay with Nike?

On the other hand, Nike may still offer the former NBA champion a new sneaker deal even if the production of the Nike Kyrie series will cease. If that would be the case, Nike may proceed with retro releases from the Nike Kyrie line or let Irving don other Nike sneakers during games. 

This scenario is somewhat similar to what happened to future Hall of Famer and 10-time All-Star Carmelo Anthony in his current stint with the Jordan brand. The only difference is that in Melo’s case, he recently re-signed with Jordan before the brand decided to cease the Jordan Melo line after releasing 13 signature pairs. 

Now, Anthony has been using the Jordan Brand’s recent releases and Player Exclusives in games even though the continuation of his signature line might already gone up in smoke.

Time will only tell if Irving’s contract with Nike will pan out once more or if he has to take his talents elsewhere. Nonetheless, with his astounding influence in the basketball world, it is very likely that numerous suitors will go after Irving. After all, his signature line has the potential to be a cornerstone of any sneaker brand. 

The current good news that fans may hold into is that regardless of the situation in the near future, as per Nike, the release of the Nike Kyrie 9 is still imminent, and the cessation of the signature line may take place afterward. 

The real question now is, are we about to witness the fall of a sneaker empire? If yes, where do you think will Kyrie sign his new sneaker contract? 

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