Kyrie Irving Linked to Surprise Sneaker Brand Amid Expiring Nike Deal

Kyrie Irving

Getty Kyrie Irving of the Brooklyn Nets.

Brooklyn Nets star point guard Kyrie Irving will be an unrestricted free agent next summer after he and the Nets failed to agree on the terms of a new extension. As an unrestricted free agent, Irving can go to any team of his choosing, putting the Nets in danger of losing their star for nothing in return.

But Irving’s deal with the Nets is not the only expiring contract he is on. So is his sneaker deal with Nike. According to ESPN insider Adrian Wojnarowski, the famed sneaker brand is uncertain if they will extend him past 2023.

“Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving has long had one of Nike’s most popular
and profitable signature basketball shoes, but uncertainties surrounding his NBA future have left the company unlikely to extend him to a similar signature deal beyond the 2022-23 season, sources told ESPN,” Wojnarowski reported in July.

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New Balance Mentioned as Potential Kyrie Suitor

With Irving’s contract with Nike expiring, the seven-time All-Star could have a plethora of suitors looking to design his next signature sneaker.

According to NBA insider, Brandon “Scoop B” Robinson of Bally Sports, sneaker brand New Balance could pursue the Nets star if he does become a sneaker free agent. But the discussions between the two sides seem to be ongoing, as Robinson notes, Kyrie recently met with Nike reps in Los Angeles.

“Nike met with Kyrie in LA recently. Don’t count them out,” Robinson tweeted on September 29. “New Balance, however, does have a dope roster of talent: [Zach] LaVine, Kawhi [Leonard], Jamal Murray.”

Benson: Under Armour “Perfect Fit” for Kyrie

Nike has a host of signature athletes on its line. Kevin Durant, Giannis Antetokounmpo, and LeBron James, who signed a lifetime deal with the company in 2015, are all Nike signature athletes. And to be frank, all three players are currently more relevant than Irving, thus making them more marketable than him.

Nike is the cream of the crop of sneaker brands, and Irving is one of five players who currently have a signature line with the company (LeBron, Durant, Giannis, Paul George).

But as the NBA is amid a changing of the guard, other athletes, such as Phoenix Suns star Devin Booker and reigning NBA Most Improved Player Ja Morant, could get signature shoes shortly, which would make the brand a lot more saturated than it is currently.

It is one of the reasons that Pat Benson of “Sports Illustrated” says Irving and sneaker brand Under Armour may be the “perfect fit”.

“Under Armour lacks street cred for most hoopers. Some fans perceive the American company as more of a football or baseball sportswear brand. Their basketball shoes have gone viral for the wrong reasons on more than one occasion,” Benson writes.

“However, that could make the pairing a perfect fit. Under Armour has two signature athletes – Joel Embiid and Stephen Curry. And the latter recently spun off his own sub-label, the Curry Brand. Under Armour would benefit from Irving’s popularity and cache among basketball fans. The company’s tech is perfectly fine; they just need an infusion of hype from someone.”

It will be interesting to see the outcome of Irving and his future with Nike.