There’s still no progress on Kyrie Irving’s next move when his Nike sneaker deal ends. Now, fans and sneaker enthusiasts are beginning to wonder where the seven-time NBA All-Star will sign his next sneaker deal.
The 30-year-old Brooklyn Nets guard annually earns US$11 million in his current contract with Nike. However, Irving’s multi-million contract will end after the 2022-23 NBA season, and per reports, it is “unlikely” for Nike to offer a contract extension.
While the reason behind Nike’s decision was unconfirmed, numerous reports revealed that the multi-billion brand is uncertain about Irving’s future in the league. This might have been the cause of the uncertainty in the Kyrie-Nike partnership.
This was due to Kyrie’s inability to play in some games due to the NBA’s policy with regard to the prohibition of unvaccinated players to play in away games during the 2021-22 season. Without a second thought, Kyrie decided to sit out in those games to stand by his decision and principle against vaccination.
Moreover, a few months ago, the seven-time All-Star was involved in a now-deleted Instagram tirade pertaining to his 8th signature pair with Nike. Nevertheless, the issue was fixed, and the pair was successfully released.
Besides, Nike did not give any statement or sanctions against Irving regarding the matter. So, it is groundless to say that the social media issue surrounding the Nets star is a contributing factor to why Nike is leaning towards the cessation of the Nike Kyrie line.
As Irving is shrouded by issues left and right, the Nike Kyrie line, indeed, is in jeopardy. With one remaining sneaker up for release – the Nike Kyrie 8 –fans may start to speculate where will Kyrie sign his next sneaker deal.
With that, here are some sneaker companies that could potentially sign the former NBA champion as one of their sneaker cornerstones.
The late great Kobe Bryant started his NBA career lacing up the Three Stripes brand. Though the relationship between the Lakers legend and adidas fell miserably, the legacy built by Kobe with the German brand could not be denied.
Coincidentally, Irving is a huge fan of the late Lakers legend. It is no secret that the Nets star would like to follow Bryant’s legacy. So, if adidas develops an interest, they could lure Irving into their den with such a pitch.
If Irving decides to sign with Nike’s biggest rival, it would be a great challenge for the brand how to cater to Kyrie’s demands. It is noteworthy that Kyrie loves low-to-the-ground sneakers with superb court feel, and that is very evident in the Nike Kyrie line. In contrast, adidas usually beefs up signature shoes with cushion technology for better impact protection which, in some cases, affects the pair’s court feel.
If adidas wants to land a huge fish in Irving, the brand has to make some tweaks to the pair’s build without compromising their signature technologies.
It may be a gamble to sign an aging star with on-court and off-court issues, but considering Kyrie’s influence and reputation in the sneaker community, this could be a risk that adidas might take.
PUMA is an emerging contender in the battle of the best sneaker empires. The German brand boasts some of the best-performing basketball shoes in recent memory such as the PUMA Clyde, PUMA Clyde All-Pro, and PUMA MB.01, to name a few.
Moreover, the rising brand was able to lure some of the biggest names in the league such as their present and future cornerstone LaMelo Ball, NBA champion Kyle Kuzma, and 2018 first-overall pick Deandre Ayton.
LaMelo may be PUMA’s greatest asset and definitely the brand’s future. However, the PUMA MB line is just in its first installment with still a lot to prove, both in the hardcourt and to sneaker enthusiasts.
An established and compelling sneaker empire requires the best-performing products and the most influential endorsers, so this is where Irving’s name could be slated. Not only does the 30-year-old have on-court charisma, but he also has the hottest sneakers out there.
Adding Irving to their roster will be a great boost for PUMA both in sales and reputation. Moreover, the shifty guard could pave the way for other names in PUMA’s paycheck, including LaMelo when it comes to the success of the sneaker lines.
Most importantly, compared to adidas, it is more plausible for PUMA to give in to the demands of Irving when it comes to designing signature shoes. This is because PUMA could build sneakers with features close to what Nike could offer, especially specifications comparable to the Nike Kyrie line.
Just like PUMA, New Balance is another brand that tries to claw its way up in the sneaker battle. As one of the oldest sneaker manufacturers in existence, New Balance is relatively known as a major manufacturer of performance and lifestyle sneakers.
But as the competition grew stronger, innovations must take place. So the American brand finally decided to join the basketball sneakers war and released some of its best products like the Omni1s, TWO WXY, and the New Balance Kawhi line, to name a few.
New Balance wasted no time signing big names in the league as there are already 13 NBA players on their payroll. Some of them are already big names, including two-time NBA champ and two-time Defensive Player of the Year Kawhi Leonard, two-time All-Star Zach LaVine, and one-time All-Star Dejounte Murray.
The brand has a pretty solid lineup on paper, with Leonard leading the way and LaVine as their probable future cornerstone. However, New Balance could still be a piece or two away from being a legitimate basketball sneaker empire.
Leonard is definitely one of the best players in the league, but unlike his defensive prowess and reputation, his signature sneaker line does not have that much impact in the market.
On the other hand, LaVine still has no signature line with the brand, though having one is not far-fetched, at least for now. Other players under the brand still have a lot to prove for their names to be noticed off the court.
Just like how a team is built to win championships, Irving could be that missing piece New Balance is waiting for. Indeed, the Boston-based multinational corporation must be vigilant in signing the seven-time All-Star if they are dead serious about competing for the top spot.
If there is one brand that could replicate the Nike Kyrie line’s features, it could be Converse. It is not because the brand is excellent in copying Nike’s technologies, but because the same technologies are infused in Converse basketball sneakers.
In 2003, Nike took over Converse and made the then-95-year-old company an umbrella. However, since better basketball shoes were developed, Converse fell out of the contest with the intention to focus on continuing its signature lifestyle and skating shoes.
Converse basketball sneakers may not be in the limelight since 2012, but the brand’s aspirations ventured back in 2019 when Nike and Converse released the Converse All-Star BB Pro. When Converse basketball shoes returned, Nike implemented their cutting-edge technologies to boost Converse’s on-court performance. Nike’s strategy to revive Converse’s career paid off. Now, the brand produces basketball shoes using Nike’s technology, and so far, they do not disappoint.
Moreover, the brand also signed NBA players to represent them in the league, a list that includes rising star Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and four-time NBA champion Draymond Green, to name a few. With just a few real and established big names in their current roster, Converse may go after someone who would carry the load for them. That someone is obviously Irving.
To set the record straight, not because Nike is “unlikely” to re-sign the shifty guard, that doesn’t mean that he cannot sign with the umbrella brand. Besides, it could also be a marketing strategy that Converse and Nike will pull off.
Green, for example, did not extend his contract with Nike. Instead, the Warriors forward continued his sneaker deal with Nike’s umbrella company, Converse. Even if the circumstances are different between Irving and Green, this is still a plausible move.
Not only that, but since Converse uses the same technology as Nike, it is highly likely to create a Converse Irving line using the same features as the Nike Kyrie line. This is more realistic than PUMA developing their own Kyrie line by molding the Nike Kyrie line.
Indeed, this brand is the dark horse in signing Irving, granted that they will be fixated on doing so. To be honest, from the perspective of a sneaker enthusiast, it is both exciting and interesting to see a Converse Kyrie line.
Without any doubt, the Nike Kyrie line has been phenomenal since Day 1 as it boasts its excellent on-court performance, flamboyant colorways, and fashionable style. Moreover, professional, amateur and even habitual players are fond of lacing up Nike Kyrie pairs.
The Nike Kyrie line is a sneaker empire that is already engraved in anybody’s shoe rack. Definitely, enthusiasts and players, alike, are not yet prepared to let go of the sneaker line. It is “unlikely” for Nike to re-sign Irving by the end of his sneaker deal, but that doesn’t mean that they won’t.
Besides, if reports were true regarding Nike’s uncertainties with Kyrie’s future in the NBA, it could now be settled since the NBA already lifted its policy concerning unvaccinated players in away games, with Toronto as an exemption.
This means that Kyrie is now eligible to play in away games, at least within the USA. This could somehow mend Nike’s concerns and may sway their previous decision. As for other issues surrounding the seven-time All-Star, it will be between him and Nike if they could clear the air and decide to move forward.
Just like when the tarnished relationship and negotiations between Nike and the Kobe Bryant Estate which was mended, later on, the same could happen with Nike and Irving. After all, it is very hard to let go of one of Nike’s biggest sources of sales.
But in case Nike and Irving reached a new agreement but the brand is adamant about the cessation of the Nike Kyrie line after the release of Nike Kyrie 8, Kyrie could still be granted Player Exclusive pairs, at the very least.
UPDATE: Nike suspends its partnership with Irving and cancels the launch of Nike Kyrie 8.