In 2018, Kyrie’s sneaker sales were down. The Kyrie 1-3 were the best-selling Nike Basketball signature sneakers. These models appeared in NPD data for the top 10 sneakers sold, establishing Kyrie as an overall and general release success for the Swoosh. Even in my own data, Kyrie’s 1-3 sneakers have significantly outpaced retail sales in both men’s and GS sizes. Kyrie was a pitchman for Pepsi, which moved a business concept to a Hollywood movie in Uncle Drew, and LeBron came back and helped Kyrie win his one and only NBA championship. Then Kyrie became disgruntled and wanted to leave Cleveland. In 2018, he needed a serious image makeover and Nike rose to the challenge of delivering one of the best and most humanizing commercial spots possible for Kyrie:
Kyrie Irving – #11 is the Anti-He Got Game and that’s a good thing | Marketing – ARCH USA
In the #11 spot hoops fans got to see something that is rare in basketball, a father and son moment. I called it the anti-He has game. The scene in Spike Lee’s movie when Denzel was completely destroyed by Jesus in the field was symbolic of the relationships between black fathers and sons, especially those of us who grew up without a father. Nike humanized Kyrie, but sadly, Kyrie couldn’t pull it off. He abused his teammates in Boston and then lied to Celtic fans before leaving for Brooklyn. Kyrie’s problems only increased once he arrived in Brooklyn. Nike is a company founded by an athlete and his trainer. The principles of Nike are rooted in a sporting foundation that relied heavily on trust in your team leader. There’s a reason Phil Knight went to see Bill Bowerman. It’s Nike’s DNA. Kyrie said he didn’t need a coach and followed that statement by calling private meetings to stop athletes from playing in the bubble. He missed more games than he played, which didn’t help his sneaker sales, had an anti-vax status, flying against other Nike athletes who got vaccinated and competed in a time when people were losing their lives and jobs. Kyrie, since 2018, hasn’t been a team player and any sneaker that hasn’t received a limited version of the concept has been cut deep. Factor in the rise of Ja Morant, who has had no problems so far, and Kyrie has become a liability. Nike was close to ending the relationship and understandably… for basketball reasons, Nike had an easy opportunity to end the relationship to focus on the next generation at Morant. Kyrie’s recent actions gave them an early exit, but to be fair, watching last year was reason enough.
Nike dropped two styles for Kyrie: Kyrie 5 Low and Kyrie Infinity, which was really the 8; think of the infinity symbol as an 8 shape, but maybe Nike was considering ending the line and went with Infinity because it matched the symbols Kyrie has used on his sneakers in the past. Both of these styles performed horribly at retail. Examination of the data for almost all colors produces similar results. I picked up the following two general release sneakers that hit the market in huge numbers and on almost every wholesale account at Nike:
Using third-party resale data, even when the shoes were marked down, sellers didn’t really care about reselling. Most Kyrie models were discounted to 59.99 and many models were either RTV returned to Nike or sold directly to Nike Factory, Clearance and Employee Stores and even in these doors no one took a chance on the models. which sell at 120.00 and 130.00. Take note of the number of stockings sold under the style code on eBay. While the price is above retail, only 16 pairs have been sold. Currently, not a single pair of shoes are listed under this style code on eBay. StockX more accurately reflects the reality of this model since the average price sold is at 90 out of 136 pair. On the Infinity Bred, the numbers are way below the retail price of sneakers bought at a discount. The data is far removed from the information I recently reported on Yeezy:
Is Adidas in trouble without Yeezy?
I intentionally wrote this message without referring to the public outcry over Kyrie statements. My intention was to create a discussion of what has happened since the #11 ad created by Nike for Kyrie in 2018. Nike was trending down on Kyrie and his injuries and behavior offered more than enough evidence to explain why Nike should part ways with the talented player. This recent appearance has only solidified a decision already underway. It also laid the groundwork for athletes who work with Nike. You can kneel and we will stand by your side. You can fight for a tie, and we’ll be on your side, but never take all the attention away from the game. Kyrie became a distraction by losing. This hastened his fate. In 3.5 years in Brooklyn, Nike has never had the opportunity to cross-promote two of its top signature athletes in a major market. It’s crazy when you think about it.