After Nike initially suspended its partnership with Kyrie Irving and scrapped the release of its upcoming Kyrie 8 signature shoe last month, Nike confirmed on Monday that it had completely severed ties with the Brooklyn Nets point guard.
“Kyrie is no longer a Nike athlete,” a Nike company spokesman told ESPN.
Irving’s signing deal with the company was scheduled to expire on October 1, 2023. The deal was abruptly suspended 11 months before it expired after Irving posted a link to a book and film on social media with anti-Semitic messages.
“Kyrie has crossed the line. It’s that simple,” Phil Knight told CNBC on Nov. 10. “He made some statements that we just can’t accept and that’s why we ended the relationship. “
Knight’s comments three weeks ago were taken as confirmation across the industry that the partnership was indeed fully terminated before it expired.
“We have collectively decided to part ways and wish Nike the best in their future endeavors,” Irving’s agent, Shetellia Riley Irving, also told CNBC on Monday.
Around 68% of the NBA wear Nike sneakers in games. In every season since the launch of the Kyrie 1, the annual Kyrie model has become one of the most worn boots in the league. According to data from KixStats.com, 164 players have worn the Kyrie 7 in games to date. Dozens of players often sport the more affordable Kyrie Low model as well, while others also swap between last year’s models.
The brand is not expected to instruct or ask current NBA players to stop wearing Kyrie-branded footwear, sources told ESPN, as this is mid-season and players have long appreciated the comfort and performance of the Irving -Prefer series on the pitch.
The clarity of the contract termination, which is coming well ahead of its final expiration in 2023, means Irving is now a sneaker free agent and could sign a new endorsement deal with the brand partner of his choice.
After signing with Nike as a rookie in 2011, Irving became just the 20th NBA player in league history to receive his own signature sneaker with the company in 2014.
Irving’s annual Kyrie signature shoe line and lower-priced Kyrie Low and Kyrie Flytrap models resulted in one of the best-selling signature footwear companies in the industry. It was Nike’s second most lucrative franchise for current players in recent years, behind only LeBron James’ signature series.
“Who has [ever] spent their hard earned money on everything I’ve ever released, I consider you FAMILY and we’re connected forever,” Irving tweeted on Monday. “It’s time to show how powerful we are as a community.”