The mercurial star’s cavalcade of nonsense has put his shoe deal at risk, according to ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne and Adrian Wojnarowski. They report:
[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.
Irving has a new edition of his shoe set to debut in the fall, but that is expected to be the final year of a lucrative signature series that he has had with Nike since 2014, sources said.
Nike isn’t denying the report, which says plenty. They, like the Nets, have clearly had enough of Irving. And his antics are a lot more damaging to their partnership than his with the Nets. As long as Irving is on the floor and performing — yes, we know, a big ask of him — the Nets can tolerate the other stuff. But Irving’s various public rants — including one about Nike last summer — and other kerfuffles could cause much more financial and public relations harm for them.
Irving reportedly makes $11 million annually from Nike. That is not an insignificant amount of money, even for a guy sitting on a $37 million player option for next season. While Nike does not appear set to completely sever ties — they would likely still have some Irving-associated products, according to the report — it’s clear they would be asking him to take a major cut. Which may not sit well with Irving, who has made his affinity to get paid while not doing much well-known.
It’s been a rough week for Irving. The Twitch diatribe. Sean Marks and the Nets trying to push the toothpaste back into the tube. Now Nike is done playing. Surely a completely calm and measured response from Irving will follow.
James Kratch can be reached at [email protected]