NEWYou can now listen to Fox News articles!
Nike may not renew its contract with Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving, a contract that has made both sides a lot of dough since it was signed back in 2014.
According to ESPN, “uncertainties surrounding his NBA future have left the company unlikely to extend him to a similar signature deal beyond the 2022-23 season.”
Kyrie Irving #11 of the Brooklyn Nets dribbles during the first half of the Eastern Conference 2022 Play-In Tournament against the Cleveland Cavaliers at Barclays Center on April 12, 2022 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. (Sarah Stier/Getty Images)
Fans will recall that governmental regulations in New York City and state prevented Irving from playing in most home games at Barclays Center last season because he refused the COVID vaccine. He was eventually permitted to participate in some road games, and then NYC adjusted its regulations to permit unvaccinated professional athletes, including Irving, to return to work unrestricted.
The Nets made the playoffs but were swept by the Heat in the first round.
Kyrie Irving #11 of the Brooklyn Nets shoots a free throw against the Boston Celtics during Round 1 Game 1 of the 2022 NBA Playoffs on April 17, 2022 at the TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. (Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images)
Meanwhile, Nike shoe enthusiasts remain as loyal as ever. Irving has had one of the most popular and profitable signature shoe lines in history, and Nike will likely continue some partnership with him, perhaps with “retro shoes from previous collections,” per ESPN. But the main contract is likely to expire without extension after the 2022-2023 season, even with a new shoe set to be released this fall.
When reached for comment, ESPN told Nike: “We don’t comment on contracts or rumors or speculation. Kyrie remains a Nike athlete.”
Irving may currently be “a Nike athlete,” but he hasn’t always been pleased with the product Nike has issued on his behalf.
The sneakers worn by Kyrie Irving #11 of the Brooklyn Nets against the Boston Celtics during Round 1 Game 1 of the 2022 NBA Playoffs on April 17, 2022 at the TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. (Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)
Last summer, Irving openly criticized the design of Nike Kyrie 8, calling them “trash” and insisting that “I have nothing to do with the design or marketing” and that “Nike plans to release it without my okay,” per ESPN.
All in all, sounds like this slow-rolling divorce was a long time coming.