Nike cuts ties with Kyrie Irving following anti-semitism controversy
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Nike has suspended its relationship with Kyrie Irving in the wake of the NBA star's anti-semitic controversy.
Over the past week, the Brooklyn Nets star has become embroiled in an off-court saga which has swept through the league.
Irving landed himself in hot water when he re-tweeted a film.
But this wasn't just any old movie, it was one titled 'Hebrews to Negroes: Wake up Black America', which Nets team owner Joe Tsai describes as “full of anti-Semitic information”.
Irving was widely condemned for the move and was subsequently suspended by Brooklyn following mounting pressure from the public.
Now his major sponsor Nike has followed suit, suspending their multi-million-dollar business deal with the former NBA champion and deciding not to release the latest edition of his upcoming signature shoe.
In a statement, the sportswear giant said: “At Nike, we believe there is no place for hate speech and we condemn any form of antisemitism.
“To that end, we’ve made the decision to suspend our relationship with Kyrie Irving effective immediately and will no longer launch the Kyrie 8.
“We are deeply saddened and disappointed by the situation and its impact on everyone.”
Irving is one of the brand's biggest basketball athletes on its books and it's understood his shoe deal alone is worth approximately AU$17 million-a-year.
Kyrie Irving is asked if he has any anti-Semitic beliefs: pic.twitter.com/hHI8FFqMbs— Nets Videos (@SNYNets) November 3, 2022
In the wake of the post, Kyrie was called upon to apologise.
With the word 'sorry' not muttered, his apology (if you can call it that) was unconvincing to say the least, although he did promise to pledge $500,000 to “causes and organisations that work to eradicate hate.”
“I don’t know how the label becomes justified,” Irving said.
“Just because I post a documentary (link) doesn’t mean I’m anti-semitic. It doesn’t mean I’m automatically standing with everyone that is believing in that.
“I cannot be anti-semitic if I know where I come from.”
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, who is Jewish himself, also spoke on Irving's apology – or rather lack thereof.
“Kyrie Irving made a reckless decision to post a link to a film containing deeply offensive antisemitic material,” Silver said.
“While we appreciate the fact that he agreed to work with the Brooklyn Nets and the Anti-Defamation League to combat anti-semitism and other forms of discrimination, I am disappointed that he has not offered an unqualified apology and more specifically denounced the vile and harmful content contained in the film he chose to publicise.
“I will be meeting with Kyrie in person in the next week to discuss this situation.”