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Irish Mirror
Irish Mirror
Joseph McBride

Kyrie Irving writes message on covered up shoes in first game since Nike deal ended

Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving took to the court for the first time since his partnership with Nike ended, and it's fair to say he had a message for the sports brand.

Irving covered the Nike logo's on his trainers with black tape, two days after they parted ways with the NBA star following his recent anti-semitic controversy. He also wrote the message "I am free" on the side of his shoes, to advertise that he is now a sneaker free agent.

What's more, is that Irving had a fantastic game for the Nets, scoring 33 points in a 122-116 win over the Charlotte Hornets. It's been a difficult period for Irving, but he let his basketball do the talking on Wednesday night.

Irving had been a Nike athlete since 2011, and in 2014 the first of his popular shoe line 'Kyrie' was released. 'Kyrie 8' was meant to be released in November, but plans were halted after Nike suspended their deal with the NBA star after he shared a link to an anti-semitic documentary on Twitter.

The 'Kyrie' shoe line was one of the most popular sneaker collections amongst NBA fans, and Nike revealed in a statement that they were 'deeply saddened' by the situation. "At Nike, we believe there is no place for hate speech and we condemn any form of antisemitism," Nike said in November.

"We will no longer launch the Kyrie 8. We are deeply saddened and disappointed by the situation and its impact on everyone," it continued. And after being suspended, Irving was then dropped by the brand, bringing an end to his reported annual $11million (£9.02m) deal.

Irving clearly wasn't too concerned, as he instantly responded to the news by sharing an image which read: "Let the party begin." That post came just minutes after Irving also tweeted an image with the caption: "There's nothing more priceless than being free", suggesting he did not want to remain with Nike.

And he's made this case known once again, but this time on the court as he backed up his 'freedom' stance by writing it on his trainers. The trainers clearly did him well, as it was his best game for points, assists and blocks all season.

Irving was also suspended by the Nets following the controversy, but was added back to their roster on November 21 after missing 20 days of NBA action. Unlike the Nets, Nike didn't see a future with Irving as they opted to disassociate themselves with Irving.

Days after they suspended him, Nike co-founder Phil Knight was quoted as saying: "I would doubt that we go back. But I don’t know for sure. Kyrie stepped over the line.

"It’s kind of that simple. He made some statements that we just can’t abide by and that’s why we ended the relationship. And I was fine with that."

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