After his deal with Nike was terminated last year amid controversy in Brooklyn, Irving reached a five-year endorsement deal with Chinese sportswear brand ANTA on Tuesday, according to The Athletic’s Shams Charania. The deal also makes Irving the Chief Creative Officer at the company.
The lucrative new shoe deal for Irving will also give him the ability to recruit/sign players and other collaborators, and bring a level of manufacturing to the United States to kickstart ANTA’s process to fully distribute in US. https://t.co/mmelAU9Ffp
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) July 12, 2023
Specifics on that deal are not yet known.
Irving reached a deal to return to the Mavericks on a three-year, $126 million deal last month in what was by far his best, and perhaps only, option in free agency. Irving was first traded to Dallas in February in a deal that sent Spencer Dinwiddie and Dorian Finney-Smith to the Brooklyn Nets after Irving’s latest trade request.
He averaged 27 points, six assists and five rebounds in 20 games for the Mavericks while dealing with a foot injury. The Mavericks finished the season 9-18 after Irving’s arrival, and fell from sixth place in the Western Conference to 11th and out of the playoffs.
Irving’s time in Brooklyn was overshadowed by the games he missed. He missed seven games in the 2020-2021 for an undisclosed reason, and then missed 53 games during the 2021-22 season while protesting the COVID-19 vaccine. He was then suspended eight games last fall after he repeatedly refused to apologize for promoting an antisemitic film on social media.
Nike actually severed ties with Irving over his antisemitism controversy, too, and canceled the launch of Irving’s next signature shoe, the Kyrie 8. Irving’s shoes were one of Nike’s most popular sneaker lines. Irving was reportedly making at least $11 million annually on that deal.
"At Nike, we believe there is no place for hate speech and we condemn any form of antisemitism," Nike said in a statement last year. "To that end, we've made the decision to suspend our relationship with Kyrie Irving effective immediately and will no longer launch the Kyrie 8. We are deeply saddened and disappointed by the situation and its impact on everyone."
Irving’s deal with Nike was already set to end after last season, and the company was reportedly unlikely to renew it even before Irving’s latest controversy.
Now, though, Irving has a new deal in place. It’s unclear when he’ll release his first signature shoe with ANTA, though that’s sure to be coming soon.