Kyrie Irving is about practicing sustainability. So instead of throwing away his signature Nike kicks, he’s found some creative customizations to cover them up during games. Irving, the newest Dallas Maverick, used a particularly meaningful embellishment at Sunday’s NBA All-Star Game.
According to SneakerNews, Irving’s sneakers were designed by former Nike footwear designer Ben Kirschner to pay tribute to his Native American heritage with beaded tan fringes all around, similar to a pair of moccasins.
Irving lost the Nike deal he’d had since 2014 after posting a link to a video, Hebrews to Negroes: Wake Up Black America that was viewed as including antisemitic tropes. It led to further controversy when Brooklyn Nets owner Joe Tsai suspended Irving without pay, asking him to complete a series of steps before he could return to the team.
Irving apparently did, and when he returned to the Nets after an eight-game absence, they went on a tear and looked to be competitive in the Atlantic division. Then Irving asked for a trade and was promptly dealt to the Dallas Mavericks. His teammate Kevin Durant was also sent to Phoenix, breaking up what looked like a surefire competitive nucleus.
Basketball aside, Irving has been vocal about his Native American heritage. He signs his Twitter posts with the name Hélà which is the name he was given in 2018 by the Standing Rock Sioux tribe in North Dakota. His mother, Elizabeth Ann Irving, was raised on the reservation until she was adopted. She died in 1996 when Irving was 4.
On Monday, the eight-time All-Star posted pics of several of his Nike sneaks and the inventive ways he’s covered their distinctive swoosh logo. He did not specifically address any reason for the fringes.
When his fellow All-Star Giannis Antetokounmpo was asked about his favorite Nike line, he referenced (aside from his own) Irving’s line.
Though they are no longer in the Irving business, Nike quietly released a new sneaker. The Nike Kyrie Low 5 in Wolf Gray came out Feb. 1 and is still available on Nike’s website.
Irving became a Dallas Maverick Feb. 5, two days after his request and just before the Feb. 9 trading deadline. Durant, his former teammate, and friend, who supported Irving through his anti-vaccination controversy, said the trade was “tough to stomach” especially since it impacted his career as well and led to his request to go to Phoenix.
During NBA All-Star Weekend, Irving addressed the media about the trade.
“The speculation and narratives are what makes this entertainment kind of seem a little bit more important or more of a priority than it actually is. Like, it’s my life. It’s not just a dream that everybody can gossip about,” he said.
“I take it very serious, and most of the work that I do doesn’t get seen, so I don’t know if it will ever truly be appreciated, but all in all, when you work as hard as I do or anyone else in a specific profession, I feel like you should have the liberty and the freedom to go where you’re wanted, where you’re celebrated and where you feel comfortable, so I wouldn’t say any of my situations were bad.”
See how Twitter’s reacting to Irving covering up the Nike logo below.
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