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Free From Kyrie, Nike Eyes High-Flying NBA All-Star

Though it was probably a mere formality after shelving the much-anticipated Kyrie 8 series of shoes on Nov. 4, Nike made its severance with star Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving official on Monday.

“At Nike, we believe there is no place for hate speech and we condemn any form of antisemitism,” the company said in a statement Monday. “To that end, we’ve made the decision to suspend our relationship with Kyrie Irving effective immediately and we will no longer launch the Kyrie 8. We are deeply saddened and disappointed by the situation and its impact on everyone.”

Irving was suspended by the NBA for five games after making a social media post promoting an antisemitic movie and then initially refusing to apologize for it.

He has since returned to playing for the Nets, but his relationship with Nike never recovered from the controversy. Irving took to Twitter on Monday to post the quote, “There is nothing more priceless than being free.”

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Set to take Irving’s place on the Nike hierarchy appears to be Memphis Grizzlies guard Ja Morant.

Morant already endorses Nike, but according to a tweet from Sams Charania of The Athletic, “Memphis Grizzlies All-NBA star Ja Morant is in line to receive a new signature shoe at Nike in the near future, industry sources tell @TheAthletic @Stadium. The parties have been working on this for several months.”

A view of the sneakers worn by Ja Morant #12 of the Memphis Grizzlies against the Minnesota Timberwolves in the first quarter of the game at Target Center on November 30, 2022 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Photo by David Berding/Getty Images

The post seems to confirm industry chatter earlier this year suggesting that Morant and Nike are cooking up a marquee sneaker similar to what Giannis Antetekoumpo, LeBron James and Kevin Durant have created with the Oregon powerhouse.

PORTLAND, OREGON – NOV. 2: Ja Morant #12 of the Memphis Grizzlies drives to the basket against Josh Hart #11 of the Portland Trail Blazers during the second quarter at Oregon’s Moda Center in Portland. Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images

The Nike Ja sneaker is set for a spring/summer release in several colorways with prices topping out at $120, according to the SoleRetriever.com.