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NBA basketball player and self-proclaimed humanitarian Kyrie Irving appears ready to sign his next shoe deal. However, Irving’s pick for his next partnership is drawing plenty of criticism because of his platform for human rights.
Kyrie Irving’s Potential New Shoe Deal Reeks of Hypocrisy
On Saturday, Irving was spotted wearing a pair of Anta Shock Wave Pro 5 basketball shoes at his basketball camp. The new shoes were a clear sign of Irving’s connection with Anta — one of China’s most prominent sports companies.
No details or announcement has been provided regarding Irving’s potential new deal.
Reports were floating that the eight-time All-Star was flirting with Anta, Adidas and Pumas for a new shoe deal.
According to Brandon ‘Scoop B’ Robinson, Anta showed interest in signing Irving after Nike dumped him in 2022. Nike ended its association with Irving over concerns of anti-Semitic postings, which eventually led to an eight-game suspension by the NBA.
Following Nike’s decision, Irving wore a pair of sneakers with the message, “I am Free, thank God I am Free” written on them. On a separate occasion, Irving wore a message that read, “Free All of my People.”
Kyrie’s intentions to make money and set his own terms are now clear as day.
Weeks before his basketball camp, Irving teased an upcoming shoe deal announcement. Adidas and Puma reportedly showed interest as potential suitors alongside Anta.
“I will be signing my new shoe deal very, very soon,” Kyrie Irving said on Instagram Live in May. “I won’t even call it a shoe deal. I’m about to blow this out the water. I’m so excited about it.”
Anta Is Another CCP Pawn
For the past two years, Irving has openly used his online platform as a free-thinking, intrepid advocate for personal freedoms.
Anta’s ties to the Communist Party of China are apparent. Irving’s decision to rep Anta seemingly nullifies his mission and struggles to promote human rights.
The NBA and fellow brands’ business links to China — an international market that grosses nearly $500 million in annual revenue for the league — have been heavily disputed over the years.
Even stars like Boston’s Jaylen Brown questioned Nike’s decision to dump Irving because of ties to the Chinese government, which oversees the modern-day enslavement of Uyghur Muslims in the Xinjiang region.
In 2021, a Forbes report revealed Anta donated nearly $1.2 billion worth of shares to the CCP. The company’s charity was intended to promote the Chinese government’s message of conformity.
The report reads, “As inherently Chinese companies, both ANTA and LiNing will thus likely remain loyal to the CCP’s understanding of human rights, especially as their domestic revenues dwarf anything they earn abroad.”
Anta, recognized as a sports giant in China, signed Golden State Warriors guard Klay Thompson to a massive 10-year, $80 million deal.
Kyrie Irving had his critics amid the vaccine debates and promotion of the “Hebrews to Negroes” film, but he emphasized an objective to promote honest thought rather than suppressing ideas. And some sympathized with his mission to stand by religious morals over the pressures of business.
The one-time champ’s next shoe deal proved that if China can’t persuade ardent human-rights activists to stop or ban them from the league through their influence, they’ll pay them to shut up.