To release his next signature shoe Nike has suspended its relationship with Kyrie Irving and cancelled its plans, since the Brooklyn Nets guard tweeted a link the latest chapter in the ongoing fallout to a film containing antisemitic material.
“With Irving unequivocally say he has no antisemitic beliefs it will halt its relationship, who has been suspended, by the Nets for what the team called a repeated failure”, the shoe giant announced on Friday night.
On Thursday the Nets made that move, for at least five games banning Irving without pay, and Nike made its decision a day later. Among many others, those actions followed widespread criticism from the Anti-Defamation League and NBA Commissioner Adam Silver.
The Beaverton, Oregon-based company said “For hate speech we believe there is no place and we condemn any form of antisemitism, at Nike”.
“The Kyrie 8 with Kyrie Irving effectively we’ve made the decision to suspend to that end our relationship immediately and will no longer launch”.
With Nike since 2014 Irving has had a signature line. Nike said “We are deeply saddened and disappointed by the situation and its impact on everyone”.
Irving signed with Nike in 2011, Shortly after becoming 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 to him making a reported $11 million annually just from the Nike endorsement.
The Kyrie 8 was expected to be released next week. On the Nike website Friday night previous models of his shoes were still for sale.
“Hebrews to Negroes: Wake Up Black America,” which includes Holocaust denial and conspiracy theories about Jews, Irving posted a tweet which has since been deleted last week with a link to the documentary. Irving defended his right to post what he wants, in a contentious postgame interview session last Saturday.
The fallout only continued from there. The NBA put out a statement that didn’t name Irving but denounced all forms of hate speech over the weekend.
At the Brooklyn-Indiana game on Monday night a day after he took down the tweet Fans wearing “Fight Antisemitism” shirts occupied some courtside seats. A development that has been overshadowed by the Irving saga, the Nets and coach Steve Nash parted ways on Tuesday.
Irving said he opposes all forms of hate on Wednesday, and he and the Nets each announced that they would each donate $500,000 toward groups that work to eradicate it.
Irving refused to give a direct answer when asked on Thursday if he has antisemitic beliefs and silver then issued a new statement calling on Irving by name to apologize.
For the Nets that, evidently, was the last straw, who suspended him. Irving posted an apology on Instagram for not explaining the specific beliefs he agreed and disagreed with when he posted the documentary, hours later.
“I am deeply sorry to have caused you pain, and I apologize Irving wrote to All Jewish families and Communities that are hurt and affected by my post”.
“To being unjustly labelled Anti-Semitic I initially reacted out of emotion, instead of focusing on the healing process of my Jewish Brothers and Sisters that were hurt from the hateful remarks made in the Documentary.”
A day later, Nike, which had also been criticized for not moving more swiftly, took action.
Irving becomes the second celebrity to lose a major shoe deal over antisemitism in less than two weeks.
After stopping production of its line of Yeezy products as well as halting payments to Ye and his companies Adidas parted ways with Ye the artist formerly known as Kanye West late last month, a move the German company said would result in about $250 million in losses this year.
Including a Twitter post that he would soon go “death con 3 on JEWISH PEOPLE,” for weeks, Ye made antisemitic comments in interviews and on social media, an apparent reference to the U.S. defense readiness condition scale known as DEFCON.
During his career Irving has expressed no shortage of controversial opinions. Before eventually apologizing to science teachers he repeatedly questioned whether the Earth was round.
In most of the Nets’ home games last year, his refusal to get a COVID-19 vaccine led to him being banned from playing.
Winning 128-86 without Irving. The 42-point win matched the fourth-largest in Nets franchise history, the Nets played at Washington on Friday.
Irving’s apology was a step forward, but before he can resume playing many other steps will be required, earlier Friday Sean Marks Brooklyn general manager said.
“Within our community there are going to be some remedial steps and measures with some anti-hate and some Jewish leaders that have been put in place for him to obviously seek some counselling from dealing”, Marks said.
“We’ll evaluate and see if this is the right opportunity to bring him back and he’s going to have to sit down with the organization after this, he’s going to have to sit down with them”.