Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving made headlines throughout the 2021-22 NBA season for a variety of issues, ranging from on-court play to off-court decisions regarding health, vaccination, and COVID-19. Now the ongoing drama may have impacted his affiliation with Nike, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
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.
The turbulence surrounding Irving — which includes the Nets’ noncommittal stance on negotiating a long-term contract — has included several episodes in the past two years. For much of the NBA season, Irving remained unvaccinated against the coronavirus and inactive because of New York City mandates. Eventually, the Nets changed course and allowed him to become a part-time player for road games, and a change in city policy allowed him to play home games for the final stretch of the regular season and in the playoffs.
The Australian-born point guard also lashed out at Nike via social media last year, criticizing the design of the Nike Kyrie 8 shoe.
Irving averaged 27.4 points in 29 games for the Nets this season before a four-game sweep by the Boston Celtics in the opening round of the Eastern Conference playoffs. The 30-year-old point guard has a $37 million player option with the Nets for the 2022-23 season.