Nike severed ties with Kyrie Irving last year after he tweeted an anti-Semitic film. He tweeted (now deleted) a link to the 2018 film “Hebrews to Negroes: Wake Up Black America,” which asserts that Blacks are the genuine descendants of biblical Israelites. His post went on to claim that there was a global Jewish conspiracy to oppress black people.
He was subsequently suspended by his team at the time, the Brooklyn Nets. Following his fallout with Nike, he became a free agent in the shoe market. For most games last season, he wore Nikes with the swoosh covered up.
The NBA star is now back in the shoe market with a mouthwatering deal with Chinese sportswear giant, ANTA. “I’m incredibly excited about this collaboration,” Irving said in a statement, according to CBS. “The first step in becoming partners is to share the same dreams, goals, and missions. ANTA’s rapid development over the years, openness to creativity, willingness to embrace family and teamwork, expertise in areas like product innovation and manufacturing processes have left a remarkable impression on not just me, but also my A11Even team who will work side by side with me in creating something truly generationally special.”
Irving will also serve as the brand’s basketball chief creative officer. He will help the brand attract athletes, independent brands, and other pop culture, music, and artist figures to make products under his hallmark brand.
“Being appointed as ANTA Basketball’s Chief Creative Officer is more than just a realization of my dreams; in fact, it may be the perfect opportunity for me,” Irving said. “An individual who always dreams big and values independent thinking, to leverage my artistic talents to build, create, and unify the culture both on and off court.”
Irving, who has been in the league since 2011, just signed a three-year, $126 million deal extension with the Dallas Mavericks. In addition to winning the NBA title with the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2016, he is a three-time all-star.