Kyrie Irving is playing some of the best basketball of his career. The 32-year-old guard has weathered scandals, criticism, and multiple ill-fated forays onto different rosters in his decade-plus in the NBA. Now, competing in his first conference finals since 2017, Kyrie is clearly thriving alongside Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks, showing out with a spectacular 30-point performance earlier this week against the ascendant Minnesota Timberwolves.

Almost as dazzling as that Game 1 showcase were Kyrie’s shoes: He hit the court wearing the Anta Kai 1, his latest signature sneaker with Chinese athletic brand Anta Sports, in a wildly distinctive colorway. The ‘Chief Hela’ Kai 1, done in brown leather and suede, features a striking suede fringe along the collar and heel, reminiscent of the moccasins favored by some Native American tribes. Kyrie fans will remember that he wore a similar fringe on a pair of Nike Kyrie 8s during the 2023 All-Star game, in part to hide the Nike logo after the brand dropped him from its roster following remarks that were perceived as antisemitic.

The sneakers worn by Kyrie Irving 11 of the Dallas Mavericks

David Sherman/Getty Images

The Native American connection is an important one for Kyrie. His mother, Elizabeth Larson, was of Standing Rock Sioux heritage, and both his grandparents and great-grandparents were from the Standing Rock reservation in South Dakota. In 2018, after Kyrie announced his lineage and connection to the Sioux, he was given the Lakota name Little Mountain in a ceremony at the Prairie Nights Pavillion in South Dakota. “I had no idea about the history and how inclusive this group is and what it means to be part of the Sioux tribe,” Kyrie said at the time.

The ‘Chief Hela,’ taking its name from Kyrie’s social media handles, is the latest in a series of bold colorways for the star’s first sneaker with Anta. He signed with the brand in the wake of his departure from Nike, joining fellow NBA players Spencer Dinwiddie of the Los Angeles Lakers, Klay Thompson of the Golden State Warriors, and Gordon Hayward of the Oklahoma City Thunder. The Anta Kai 1 ‘Chief Hela’ will reportedly see a public release later this summer for $125.

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