Nike officially ends partnership with Kyrie Irving

After initially suspending its partnership with Kyrie Irving and canceling the release of last month’s upcoming Kyrie 8 signature shoe, Nike confirmed Monday that it has completely cut ties with the Brooklyn Nets point guard.

“Kyrie is no longer a Nike athlete,” a Nike spokesperson told ESPN.

Irwin’s signed endorsement agreement with the company was originally set to expire on October 1, 2023. The deal was abruptly suspended 11 months before it expired after Irwin posted links to books and movies containing anti-Semitic messages on social media.

“Kyrie crossed the line. Simple as that,” Phil Knight told CNBC on Nov. 10. “He made some statements that we couldn’t abide by, and that’s why we ended the relationship. I’m fine with that.”

Knight’s comments three weeks ago were interpreted by the industry as confirmation that the partnership was indeed fully terminated before it expired.

“We have jointly decided to part ways and wish Nike the best in their future endeavors,” Irving’s agent Shetria Riley Irving also told CNBC earlier Monday.

About 68 percent of NBA players wear Nike sneakers during games. Every season since the Kyrie 1’s introduction, the annual Kyrie has become one of the most worn sneakers in the league. To date, 164 players have worn the Kyrie 7 in games, according to Dozens of players also regularly wear the lower-priced Kyrie Low styles, and others rotate between last year’s styles as well.

Sources told ESPN that the brand is not expected to instruct or ask current NBA players to stop wearing Kyrie-branded shoes because it’s midseason and players have long preferred the Irving line for on-court comfort and performance.

Now that contract termination clarity is coming, well before its eventual 2023 expiration, it means Irving is now a sneaker free agent and can sign new endorsement deals with brand partners of his choice.

After signing with Nike as a rookie in 2011, Irving in 2014 became the 20th NBA player in league history to receive his own signature sneaker.

Irving’s annual signature Kyrie shoe line, along with lower-priced Kyrie Low and Kyrie Flytrap shoes, has become one of the best-selling signature footwear businesses in the industry. It’s Nike’s second-highest-earning active player franchise in recent years, behind only LeBron James’ signature collection.

“Anyone with [ever] Spend their hard earned money on anything I post, I consider you family and we are forever connected,” Owen tweeted on monday. “It’s time to show our strength as a community.”

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