The Brooklyn Nets point guard had strong words for the upcoming Kyrie 8 Wednesday, dissing the unreleased shoe as “trash” and disavowing any involvement.
“I have nothing to do with the design or marketing of the upcoming [Kyrie 8],” the basketball star, who was sidelined with an ankle injury for part of the Eastern Conference Finals against the eventual NBA champions the Milwaukee Bucks, wrote from his verified Instagram account. “[In my opinion] these are trash! I have Absolutely nothing to do with them!”
According to Irving, Nike plans to release the shoe without his say-so and regardless of what he says. Nike did not respond to a request for comment.
“I apologize in advance to all of my sneaker heads and true supporters of the [KAI 11] brand,” he added.
Irving voiced his views as a comment on an Instagram post showcasing “leaked photos”—Nike has yet to release any official imagery or details—of the Kyrie 8. Six hours after it was published, the comment had received more than 7,600 likes and 200 replies. On Twitter, screenshots of the comment have racked up thousands of likes and retweets.
Nike’s Kyrie line originally kicked off in 2014. Since then, the sneaker has grown into one of the brand’s more popular styles. In August 2019, Forbes estimated Irving’s Nike sneaker deal was worth $11 million. The last installment in the company’s Kyrie line, the 7, debuted in November.
The Kyrie uproar exploded just weeks after Kobe Bryant’s widow, Vanessa, says she never approved of a Nike sneaker apparently designed in memory of her late daughter Gianna, who also died in the helicopter crash that claimed the Los Angeles Lakers legend last year. “It appears someone already has Gigi’s Mambacita shoe in their possession,” Bryant wrote on Instagram after leaked photos surfaced online. “If someone can share how they have these shoes in their possession, that would be great because my daughters and I don’t have any of Gigi’s Mambacita shoes.”
Meanwhile, the controversy comes weeks after the release of Nike’s Zoom Freak 3. Designed for NBA Finals MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo, the shoe debuted in a black-and-purple design, with two additional colorways to follow in the near future.
Last November, Irving’s Sioux heritage served as the inspiration for Nike’s biannual N7 collection. The lineup included brilliantly colored renditions of the Kyrie 6, Air Max 1 and SB Blazer Low GT.