The History of all Nike Kyrie Irving Shoes
Kyrie Irving, the Brooklyn Nets point guard, has impressive moves on the court, but through his collaboration with Nike, he has also found a passion for basketball shoe design. Irving has developed a unique working relationship with the Nike design team, where they encourage him to think about science, and he pushes them to think about art. The result is a signature line of shoes that blends Nike’s innovation with personal touches that honor Irving’s upbringing,
Each iteration of Kyrie Irving shoes builds upon past incarnations and draws upon classic styles to create shoes that add a hint of nostalgia to an otherwise modern design — along with some of Irving’s eccentric touches. Here’s a look at the complete history of the Kyrie Irving basketball shoe line with Nike, from the Kyrie 1 through the latest Kyrie release.
In 2014, Irving was entering his third year playing for the Cleveland Cavaliers after being the first overall draft pick in 2011. It was also the year he joined Nike’s esteemed Signature Athlete Family and released the Kyrie 1 basketball shoe. The shoe was spearheaded by Nike Basketball Footwear Design Director Leo Chang and featured a mid-top trim and a composite textile cover over a mesh base. The shoe featured a dynamic mix of black, white, bright crimson, and anthracite and was nicknamed “Dream” as a nod to Irving’s realization that his dream to play in the NBA has come true. It was the most affordable of the NBA collaborations at the time, priced at $110. Nike released the shoe in 19 base colorways with 21 accent colorways for fans to create their own signature look.
The Kyrie 2 was released in 2015 and featured an updated look that was revolutionary for a basketball shoe. It was inspired by motorcycle tires since players tend to careen around the court at dangerously low angles. This was also when Nike started to think about how they could create a shoe that only they could make, as customizers started painting shoes in colorways resembling the Kyrie 1s. The “What The” version of the Kyrie 2 moved away from the usual graphics and color mashups in favor of monochromatic styles with minimal color pops. Irving also incorporated unique 3D graphic elements into the shoe that symbolize different stories from his life. The Kyrie 2 ‘Finals’ were a black & gold colorway that Kyrie wore when he hit that epic clutch 3-pointer in Game 7 of the 2016 NBA Finals to win his first NBA championship with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
This was the last shoe that Irving wore playing for the Cleveland Cavaliers as he transitioned to the Brooklyn Nets. This model was released between 2016 and 2017 in numerous colorways. The design kept the wrapped grip pattern and low-to-the-ground feel from the Kyrie 2. It also featured a new lace form that allowed players to keep their forefoot down and stay locked in. The shoe featured traction pods that helped with starting and stopping on a dime. The “JBY” (Just Be Yourself) and “H+H” (Hungry and Humble) mottos also adorned the tongue as nods to some of Irving’s favorite mottos and words to live by. His daughter’s name also appeared around the Zoom Air heel, and nods to his mother appeared throughout the design, such as a rose, Roman numerals for her birthday, and her name appearing on the rubber in the Zoom Air cushioning unit.
The 2017 design, dubbed Kyrie 4, was the first Kyrie Irving basketball shoe to be designed with Ben Nethongkome, Senior Footwear Designer for Nike Basketball, as the lead designer. Nethongkome previously worked on the Kyrie 3, but for this iteration, they worked on improving the underfoot cushioning, which was solved with a mid-sole Zoom Air heel unit and a zig-zag flex groove on the sole of the shoe to provide enhanced traction. The overall aesthetic and blocking of the shoe were inspired by Irving’s interest in vintage Nikes and Jordans. Despite his love for the classic silhouettes, Nethongkome stressed that they should innovate the shoe, which resulted in a zoned-mesh blocking with classic materials like suede and leather making appearances.
The Kyrie 5 debuted in 2018, featuring a new, flexible, breathable, and supportive style. This model of Kyrie basketball shoes introduced the Air Zoom Turbo airbag in the footbed, ideal for Irving’s start-and-stop play style. The airbag was accompanied by a revamped traction style that supports omnidirectional movement. The shoe also featured a new lacing system inspired by a Venus flytrap.
The Kyrie 5 collection featured some famous TV collaborations. One iteration featured a shoe inspired by the popular sitcom “Friends.” The special colorway has a black-and-white base with spots of color along the laces and soles. The shoe also features Kyrie’s name written like the “Friends” title slide.
In the summer of 2019, Nike launched the Nike Kyrie x SpongeBob SquarePants collection inspired by the nautical nonsense of Nickelodeon’s “Spongebob Squarepants.” Unlike previous lines, this collaboration featured loud, expressive colors that invoked the characters from the TV series. The Kyrie Irving SpongeBob shoes didn’t just feature the characters but a deeper aesthetic that connected with the vibe of the Nickelodeon series. The sneakers were also available in kids’ and toddler sizes.
In 2019, Irving and Nethongkome collaborated for a fourth time on Kyrie’s signature sneakers, and the shoe once again became a blend of art and science. With a little nostalgia from a 90s basketball shoe Irving wore in the past, the pair settled on details to keep and what they wanted to refine. The result was a 90s-inspired basketball shoe that was modernized for today’s players. These Kyrie shoes reused the Air Zoom Turbo from the Kyrie 5s, but with an added 360-traction grip for heightened court feel and a strap for mid-foot support.
In 2020, the Kyrie 7 features some callbacks to Irving’s friend and Brooklyn Nets teammate, Kevin Durant. One of the designs is inspired by the KD 4’s “Weatherman” colorway, featuring a bold green hue and topographical map graphics for the sock liner and heel. The build of the shoe remains relatively the same with a Zoom-Air heel and a multi-colored outsole. Irving says that these shoes continue his tradition of adding small personal touches to his designs.
What’s Next for Nike Kyrie Shoes?
Fans are eagerly awaiting a new and updated shoe that combines the latest Nike innovations with fashion-forward designs we expect from Kyrie. As we wait for the latest sneaker drop from Kyrie Irving and the Nike design team, you can still shop the current Kyrie Irving basketball shoe offerings at Finish Line and revisit your old favorites.