Next summer, barring any signed extensions beforehand, former Duke basketball one-and-done and current Brooklyn Nets point guard Kyrie Irving will be an unrestricted free agent in more ways than one.
On Wednesday, Pat Benson of FanNation's Kicks on SI.com — a go-to destination for sneakerheads — broke down a handful of potential options for the shoe-free-agent-to-be Irving. A few possibilities he laid out, including the following one, seem right up the alley of the notoriously nonconforming, freethinking NBA Blue Devil:
"Kyrie Irving could always start his own sneaker company. Other NBA players like Spencer Dinwiddie and Langston Galloway have successfully created their own sneaker line. There was even a rumor that Kobe Bryant thought about starting his own sneaker company after his contract expired in 2020. Sadly, we will never know the full story behind that rumor. This option seems just as plausible as any of the other moves Irving could make."
As Benson pointed out, Nike could still renew the seven-time All-Star's contract, set to expire after the 2022-23 season.
However, it's safe to assume the company won't soon forget about Irving's Instagram post last year that referred to the latest iteration of his signature Nike sneaker as "trash."
On that note, in May, ESPN's Ramona Shelburne and Adrian Wojnarowski reported the unlikelihood that the two sides extend their business relationship.
Of course, Irving's whereabouts next season — a potential trade to the Los Angeles Lakers to reunite with LeBron James remains a hot topic on social media — may determine the number of chips the 30-year-old top-shelf playmaker holds in the shoe market.
Despite rubbing many the wrong way with his out-there comments and personality, Irving's footwear has remained profitable since Nike debuted his first signature sneaker eight years ago. So imagine his kicks' popularity, no matter the brand, should he and James win another title together, only this time in L.A. instead of Cleveland (2016).
Another outside-the-box idea for Duke basketball product Kyrie Irving
Pat Benson also analyzed Kyrie Irving's potential fits with Adidas, PUMA, Under Armour, and several others. His last proposed option, though, seems to align perfectly with the freestyling floor general's individuality and, therefore, might well be the best route to bet on:
"Speaking of Kobe Bryant, it is not inconceivable that Kyrie Irving does not sign another sneaker contract. The Los Angeles Lakers legend drove sneakerheads crazy during the 2002-03 NBA season when he wore an array of different brands. Bryant is not the only player to have taken that route. The NBA is littered with players who wear whatever shoe they want on a nightly basis. One notable example is Boston Celtics guard Jaylen Brown."
With his career earnings from player contracts alone set to exceed $200 million in 2022-23, it's reasonable to think that Kyrie Irving may opt for complete foot freedom over another restriction-filled shoe contract.
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