Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving is no longer a Nike athlete, the shoe and sportswear company confirmed to Shams Charania on Monday. Nike had suspended its relationship with Irving last month due to his promotion of a film with antisemetic tropes and initial refusal to denounce it or apologize. Irving is now a shoe free agent.
In an interview last month with CNBC's "Squawk Box," Nike co-founderdenouncing Irving's recent actions. "Kyrie stepped over the line. It's kind of that simple," Knight said. "So he made some statements that we just can't abide by, and that's why we ended the relationship. And yeah, I was fine with that."
The relationship between Irving and Nike had been on rocky ground even before the star's recent scandal. In the summer of 2021, Irving criticized the production process for the "Kyrie 8," which was supposed to be the latest edition of his signature sneaker. He called the design "trash" and said he had "nothing to do with the design or marketing" of the shoe.
Though he eventually walked back those comments, saying they were "unfair," they were never officially released, and ESPN reported in May of this year that he was unlikely to sign an extension with the company after his contract expired following the 2022-23 season.
A 2021 Sportico report indicated that Irving was earning $11 million per year from Nike, which placed him in a tie for the seventh-most lucrative shoe deal among active players. LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Steph Curry, James Harden, Zion Williamson and Giannis Antetokounmpo were the only players earning more. It's unclear when or if Irving will sign with another brand.
Irving ended up missing eight games during his suspension from the team last month. He returned on Nov. 20 and has played in every game since then to help the Nets get back on track. They are 6-3 since Irving's return and have climbed to eighth place in the crowded middle of the Eastern Conference standings. In 17 total games this season, Irving is averaging 24.4 points, 4.4 rebounds and 4.4 assists, while shooting 47.3 percent from the field.