Nike split with Kyrie Irving Amid the fallout of antisemitism

(AP) – Nike has parted ways with Kyrie Irving.

The shoe giant announced Friday night that it will end its relationship with the Brooklyn guard, who has been suspended by the Nets because of what the team called repeated failures to “clearly say that he does not have antisemitic beliefs.”

The Nets made the move Thursday, and a day later, Nike made its decision as well.

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

Irving has had a signature line with Nike since 2014.

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

Irving signed with Nike in 2011, shortly after being the No. 1 pick in that year’s NBA draft. Irving’s first signature shoe was released three years later, and the popularity of the Kyrie line led him to make a reported $11 million annually just from Nike endorsements.

The Kyrie 8 is expected to release sometime next week. Previously, the shoe model was still being sold on the Nike website Friday night.

Nike’s decision comes a day after the Nets relinquished his suspension, which will last at least five games, and after NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said he wanted an apology from Irving over his decision to post a link to the documentary “Hebrew to Negro: Wake Up Black America” ​​— a film that contains antisemitic material.

Irving defended his right to post what he wanted, then declined to give a direct answer when asked Thursday if he had antisemitic beliefs. Later, hours after the Nets issued his suspension, Irving posted an apology on Instagram for not explaining specific beliefs he agreed with and disagreed with when he posted the documentary.

“To all the Jewish families and communities who were hurt and affected by my writing, I am deeply sorry to have caused you pain, and I apologize,” Irving wrote. “I initially reacted from emotion to being unfairly labeled as Anti-Semitic, instead of focusing on the healing process of my Jewish Brothers and Sisters who were hurt by the insults made in the Documentary.”

Irving became the second prominent celebrity in less than two weeks to lose a major shoe deal over antisemitism. Adidas was forced to part ways with Ye – the artist formerly known as Kanye West – late last month, a move that the German company said would result in an estimated $250 million in losses this year after it stopped production of its Yeezy product line and halted. payment to Ye and his company.

For weeks, Ye made antisemitic comments in interviews and on social media, including a Twitter post that he would soon “die con 3 on JEWISH PEOPLE,” an apparent reference to the US defense readiness scale known as DEFCON.

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