Why Nike is cutting back on Kyrie Irving
Goooood morning, family! Welcome back to the Kicks You Wear. Thank you so much for rocking with me on this glorious Monday morning. Hope you had a fantastic weekend.
Mine was dope. Sent my little brother to prom this weekend, my fiancé had her bridal shower and I also realized I’m turning 30 later this year. Holy hell I’m getting old.
My age aside, let’s dive in.
Kyrie Irving’s signature shoe line might be done
Since its debut in 2014, Kyrie Irving has had one of the hottest signature sneaker lines at Nike outside of LeBron James.
What’s happening: Despite that, the signature line might be coming to an end with this fall’s Kyrie 9, per ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne and Adrian Wojnarowski.
Nike is reportedly considering ending Kyrie Irving’s signature sneaker line after the Kyrie 9 and only releasing retro Kyrie models moving forward.
However, reports say, they don’t plan on cutting him completely because of how popular he remains in the public eye. He’d remain a Nike athlete.
But because of the confusion surrounding Irving’s future in the NBA, Nike is hesitant to commit to him moving forward as a signature athlete.
The elephant in the room: Where this stems from is pretty obvious. Irving only played 29 games for the Brooklyn Nets this season because of his decision to remain unvaccinated in the face of New York’s vaccine mandate. He was out completely for half of the season but was allowed to only play in away games in January.
Here’s the thing: That was Irving’s decision. I’m not here to argue about that. But the vaccination thing isn’t the only issue here. It’s the fact that Irving has missed so many games over the last 3 NBA seasons with a huge chunk of that not being due to injury.
He’s only played in 103 games out of 226 over the last 3 seasons and 60 of those games weren’t due to injury.
That number right there is why Nike (and the Brooklyn Nets!) are non-committal on Irving to this point. That makes sense.
Think about it: Having signature athletes is expensive. You’re paying athletes millions of dollars to wear these signature shoes that don’t sell as much as they once did. But now, they’re essentially walking billboards. These players are seen everywhere. Not only do they sell signature shoes, but they sell other product, too.
To sell that product, though, you’ve got to actually be there. Be seen. Be available. Irving just hasn’t been. Now Nike and other parties are moving accordingly.
Will this work? Probably not. This doesn’t really feel like something Irving would rock with — especially considering the fact that he made a stink about the Kyrie 8 last year.
He quite literally called the shoe “trash” last year and said he had “absolutely nothing to do with them” before switching up ahead of the release date.
His reasons why were unclear. They’re still not clear now.
So it’s clear his relationship with Nike already seemed to be fraying. This almost certainly won’t make things any better. Truthfully, there’s a chance what we’re seeing now might actually be the last of Kyrie Irving’s line forever.
If it is? What a shame.
Don’t lose the plot with Nike and StockX
The talk of Nike’s lawsuit against StockX is going to be the talk of the sneaker world over the next…however long this lasts.
This is the biggest sneaker manufacturer and the best marketer in the sneaker world going up against the leader of the resale market.
Whenever these two sides collide or clash, it’s going to be a big deal no matter what context it’s in.
This thing is complicated. It’s messy. Nike throwing claims of counterfeiting and false advertisement muddy the waters here quite a bit. It’s a lot to unpack.
The big picture: But it’s also very important that we don’t lose the plot here. This isn’t about the resale marketplace. This is Nike trying to monopolize the metaverse and knock out a competitor using its trademarks.
Between the lines: Amendments aside in their case, the NFTs are still the centerpiece of this entire thing. Like, overwhelmingly so.
Nike has invested hundreds of millions — maybe billions — into the Metaverse already. They acquired RTFKT at the tail end of last year and have already launched a number of projects with them including the MNLTH mystery box we talked about previously.
The bottom line: This is Nike fighting to protect and advance that investment. We’ll see where this goes from here. But as it continues and gets messier, always keep that first point in mind.
SPECIAL DELIVERY: Nike’s Go Flyease never needed hype
We talked a bit a few weeks ago about how Nike made a mistake with the Go Flyease last year when they dropped it for Nike+ Members exclusively. It was extremely frustrating.
On our latest episode of SD I talk about why that never needed to happen and what it might be like if they’d never done it in the first place.
Patience and care, y’all. Patience and care.
NOTIES ON for Joe FreshGoods, y’all!
I know a lot of y’all out here are looking to score on Joe FreshGoods’ new ‘Inside Voices’ collab with New Balance.
A word to the wise: Turn those Instagram notifications on for his IG. With literally everything. Posts, stories, lives. Whatever. These are coming this week.
Lookout: He’s made Instagram a legitimate vehicle for his releases lately. He shock dropped the Outside Clothes joints in December on IG and he dropped the Conversations Amonst Us 550 during an Instagram Live.
You never know how this is going to go down. But the best thing we can do is be ready. So be ready.
What’s droppin, bruh?
LeBron 9 Low “LeBronald Palmer” —Thursday, May 19
Air Max 1 “Light Madden Root” — Thursday, May 19
Stussy x Nike Air Force 1 Mid —Thursday, May 19
Nike Air Trainer 1 “Chlorophyll” — Friday, May 20
Air Jordan 4 “Military Black” — Saturday, May 21
Thank you so much for rocking with your boy today. I appreciate you! Hope y’all have a fantastic week ahead of you. Don’t forget to share KYW with the homies! Tell them to subscribe.
Let’s chat again Wednesday. Til then, peace and love. Be easy. Be safe. Be kind. And we out.