“For me, what I want people to take away is that we’re all in this together,” Nick Kyrgios says. “[Kyrie and I] want to make a difference, whether that is on or off the court. Sports brings us together no matter how different we are. At the end of the day, if you want something to work, you can make it work.”
Kyrgios, the international tennis superstar, and Irving have linked up to create a special edition version of the Nike Kyrie 5, a collaboration between two of Australia’s most well-known athletes.
The Nike Vapor X Kyrie 5 will be on-foot for Kyrgios at the Australian Open later this month. It’s a project that Irving says was a match made in heaven.
“I loved the Vapor X ‘Kyrie 5’ from the moment I first saw them,” Irving tells SLAM. “The connection of Australian roots and that we have respect for one another’s games makes the blending of these two shoes a perfect match.”
Kyrgios is from Canberra, Australia and Irving was born in Melbourne. Kyrgios’ lifelong fandom of the Celtics was just a happy coincidence.
“I was looking at some articles about Nick and I saw this quote,” Michael Hui, the Vapor X designer, remembers about the start of this project. “It sums him up pretty well.
‘This is the life on tour as a Celtics fan. Wi-Fi is a legit top-five priority in my life. You haven’t lived until you’ve tried to stream an NBA playoff game on your phone in China.'”
Hui and Alex Restivo, Product Director for NikeCourt, put things in motion, linking up with Ben Nethongkome and the Nike Basketball team.
Hui, after speaking with Nethongkome, realized that the technology in the Kyrie 5 could easily be translated to a tennis silhouette.
“The Flytrap that you see on the Kyrie 5 made a lot of sense for tennis,” Hui tells SLAM. “We thought it was a match made in heaven. Not just from a story standpoint, but also from a performance standpoint.”
“The outsole and midsole on this shoe are identical to the Vapor X I’m used to wearing,” Kyrgios says. “But the uppers on both the basketball and tennis shoes are pretty similar. The Flytrap lacing system that goes over the Vapor X ‘Kyrie 5’ helps lock down my foot in the shoe so I’m able to confidently move indifferent directions like Kyrie does on the basketball court.”
Irving draws everyone’s attention on the hardwood. And all eyes will be on Kyrgios when the tennis world is focused on Melbourne later this month.
“I wanted to create something that was a marriage of tennis and basketball, but married into this Australian Open culture,” Hui says. “Australian-inspired art to create this pattern that expresses the idea of basketball and tennis in Australia.”
Hui says that can be seen on the sockliner, as well as the colorway. The lava-like hues are a callback to summers in the land down under. It’s hot in Australia right now, the middle of the summer. Adding the white base was a conscious decision to keep Kyrgios cool during his matches in the tournament.
And Irving and Kyrgios aren’t done yet.
“Yes, there’s more energy to come from tennis and basketball in the future,” Kyrgios offers.