Nike announced this week that it was parting ways with Kyrie Irving.
Following a series of dust-ups between the company and its one-time prized star player, the move was largely expected.
Irving’s reaction to the divorce spoke for itself.
The big question on the minds of fans in the aftermath was: where does Nike go from here?
Who will they build around, besides LeBron James, in the way they did around Irving?
An answer emerged later in the week.
“Memphis Grizzlies All-NBA star Ja Morant is in line to receive a new signature shoe at Nike in the near future,” Shams Charania of The Athletic revealed.
“The parties have been working on this for several months.”
Morant is an absolute stud. So far this season he is averaging 28.3 points per game and his Grizzlies are presently third in the West. Best of all, though – his success isn’t just limited to the basketball court.
The 23-year-old is thriving off it as well. Between his success with the ladies and his undeniable social media appeal, he will keep the Nike brand relevant in the eyes of young fans for many years to come.
As for Irving, it will be interesting to see where he goes from here. He seemed fine with Nike dropping him, but he has been losing a lot of money as of late.
Another L for Devin Booker. https://t.co/q45Xf1YBTE
— Game 7 (@game7__) December 8, 2022
Sure, he has probably made upwards of $230 million over the course of his storied NBA career, but that doesn’t mean he no longer cares about earning a living. His hardcore negotiating with the Brooklyn Nets is evidence enough of that. As is the fact that he reportedly will not accept a major discount to go play for the Los Angeles Lakers.
Irving has always marched to the beat of his own drum. It will be fascinating to see what that presents itself as now that his deal with Nike is done.
Will he be able to replace it with another sponsorship from another company? Does he even want to? Answers to both questions should emerge over the next few months.
A longtime sports reporter, Carlos Garcia has written about some of the biggest and most notable athletic events of the last 5 years. He has been credentialed to cover MLS, NBA and MLB games all over the United States. His work has been published on Fox Sports, Bleacher Report, AOL and the Washington Post.