Nike part ways with Kyrie Irving amid anti-Semitism fallout

FILE - Kyrie Irving of the Brooklyn Nets speaks before the team's NBA basketball game against the New Orleans Pelicans on October 19, 2022 in New York City.  Nets suspend Irving for at least five games without pay, saying they are appalled by his inability to

FILE – Kyrie Irving of the Brooklyn Nets speaks before the team’s NBA basketball game against the New Orleans Pelicans on October 19, 2022 in New York City. The Nets are suspending Irving for at least five games without pay, saying they are appalled at his failure to “say unequivocally that he has no anti-Semitic beliefs.” Hours after Irving refused to issue an apology requested by NBA commissioner Adam Silver for posting a link to an anti-Semitic work on his Twitter feed, the Nets said Irving was “currently unfit to be associated with the Brooklyn Nets”. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II, File)

PA

Nike has parted ways with Kyrie Irving.

The footwear giant announced Friday night that it would be ending its relationship with the Brooklyn guard, who was suspended by the Nets for what the team called a repeated failure to “say unequivocally that he does not has no anti-Semitic beliefs”.

The Nets made that decision on Thursday, and a day later Nike made their decision as well.

“At Nike, we believe there is no place for hate speech and we condemn all forms of anti-Semitism,” the Beaverton, Oregon-based company said. “To that end, we have made the decision to suspend our relationship with Kyrie Irving effective immediately and will no longer launch the Kyrie 8.”

Irving has had a signature line with Nike since 2014.

“We are deeply saddened and disappointed by the situation and its impact on everyone,” Nike said.

Irving signed with Nike in 2011, shortly after becoming the first pick in the NBA Draft that year. Irving’s first signature shoe came out three years later, and the popularity of the Kyrie line saw him earn $11 million a year just from Nike’s endorsement.

The Kyrie 8 was due out next week. The previous models of his shoes were still on sale on the Nike site on Friday evening.

Nike’s decision came a day after the Nets handed down their suspension, which will last at least five games, and after NBA commissioner Adam Silver said he wanted an apology from Irving for his decision. to post a link to the documentary “Hebrews to Negroes: Wake Up Black America” – a film that contains anti-Semitic material.

Irving defended his right to publish what he wants, then declined to give a straight answer when asked Thursday if he held anti-Semitic beliefs. Later, hours after the Nets issued their suspension, Irving posted an apology on Instagram for not explaining the specific beliefs he agreed and disagreed with when he posted the documentary.

“To all Jewish families and communities who are hurt and affected by my message, I am deeply sorry for causing you pain and I apologize,” Irving wrote. “I initially reacted out of emotion at being unfairly labeled an anti-Semite, instead of focusing on the healing process for my Jewish brothers and sisters who were hurt by the hateful remarks made in the documentary.”

Irving becomes the second high-profile celebrity in less than two weeks to lose a major shoe deal because of anti-Semitism. Adidas was forced to part ways with Ye – the artist formerly known as Kanye West – late last month, a move the German company said would lead to losses of around $250 million this year after ceasing production of its Yeezy product line as well as stopping payments to Ye and his companies.

For weeks, Ye has made anti-Semitic comments in interviews and on social media, including a post on Twitter that he will soon be making “Death Con 3 on JEWISH PEOPLE,” an apparent reference to the scale of conditions. of American defense readiness known as DEFCON.

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This story was originally published November 4, 2022 7:17 p.m.

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