On Wednesday Nike announced the Kyrie Irving signature shoe, the Kyrie 1. Nike endorses a lot of players, but getting a signature shoe from Nike is more rare than making an All-Star team or even being an All-NBA selection. Of all active players only LeBron James, Kobe Bryant and Kevin Durant have signature Nike shoes. Durant was the last player to get one, back in 2007.
And the Kyrie 1 works! The on-court brotherhood between Irving and LeBron James had never seemed so in sync as it did at Madison Square Garden on Thursday night. Fresh off his Kyrie 1 launch event the night before, Irving owned the game, scoring 37 with a multitude of moves that included the game winner. But it was the camaraderie with James that was so striking. Almost every time Irving scored (which was a lot) he looked to James–for a little high five, a nod, a finger point. It was as if their particularly fraternity had received some extra glue–and the glue seemed to be supplied by Nike. For a Cavaliers team looking to solidify its identity, getting these two great players on equal footing–quite literally–may be a more important step than anything coach David Blatt draws up.