Why Kyrie Irving's signature sneaker line with Nike is reportedly in danger of ending soon

To be a Nike signature shoe athlete is some pretty rarified air. There just generally aren’t that many names to choose from in the history of NBA basketball.

In the early 2000s and early in the 2010s, there were only 3 names on Nike’s signature basketball roster: LeBron James, Kevin Durant and Kobe Bryant.

Kyrie Irving was the first to join those three when he got his initial signature model in 2014 and he’s been a Nike athlete ever since. That all might be coming to an end after this season, according to the latest from ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Ramona Shelburne.

Irving’s signature line with Nike might be done.

Wait, so no more Kyrie shoes???

The Kyrie 9 signature sneaker is scheduled to launch this fall ahead of the NBA season, but according to ESPN’s reporting, that could potentially be his last signature sneaker with Nike.

His contract reportedly expires after that season. Normally, re-upping with someone like Irving would be a no-brainer for Nike. But it seems unlikely he’ll be back to this point.

So is Kyrie leaving?

Not exactly — well, if he chooses not to leave, anyway. Wojnarwoksi and Shelburne report that, while Irving’s signature line might end, Nike still seems to want to keep him on their roster and offer retro product with his name attached to them.

He’s popular enough to still make that work.

“Because of Irving’s popularity, it is expected Nike will still offer some product associated with him in the future, like retro shoes from previous collections, sources said. But as discussions between Nike and Irving about his endorsement future have commenced recently, it’s become apparent his relationship with the company will change — perhaps dramatically so.”

But it’s not clear if Irving would even want something like that. It’s essentially a demotion.

Why would Nike do this to Kyrie?

There seems to be some “uncertainty” surrounding Irving’s NBA future after last season.

Obviously, he didn’t play for most of the season because he was unvaccinated and inactive. Eventually, he became a part-time player for the Brooklyn Nets but that essentially derailed their season.

A big part of the signature shoe game is availability. The athlete has to actually be active to wear their shoes and sell them for the brand. Irving was only active in 29 games this season. He’s also only played in 103 games over the last 3 seasons.

He wasn’t even available to debut the Kyrie 8 this year — a shoe Irving literally called out this year.

So you can see why a signature line might not be the best idea moving forward here.

Isn't taking this big of a step back a big deal for Nike?

Absolutely it is. As I said before, Irving was the first athlete to join Durant, James and Bryant on Nike’s signature athlete line in the 2010s and that was a pretty big deal at the time.

And not only was he the first to join them, but he’s also consistently had one of Nike’s best-selling signature shoes which explains why they’re hesitant to let him go completely.

Stepping away from that isn’t easy. Especially during a time when performance sneakers just aren’t the most popular.

So what happens next?

We’re really just in wait-and-see mode from here on out.

We have to see if Nike is really willing to take a step back from Irving like this despite his model being one of their best. We also have to see if Irving will even want to stick around if Nike is stepping away from him in the marginal way being reported here.

But one thing is for sure — there’s a lot in question with Irving’s future in basketball both on and off the court. We should get a ton of answers on what that looks like as the NBA’s offseason moves forward.

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