Nike Suspends Relationship With Kyrie Irving, Cancels Kyrie 8 Launch

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Nike said Friday night it was suspending its relationship with NBA star Kyrie Irving, the latest fallout after the basketball player shared an anti-Semitic film on social media and refused for days to apologize or disavow the anti-Semitism.

“At Nike, we believe there is no place for hate speech and we condemn all forms of anti-Semitism,” the company said in a statement. “To that end, we have made the decision to suspend our relationship with Kyrie Irving with immediate effect and to no longer launch the Kyrie 8.” The Kyrie 8 shoe was set to release this month, according to industry publications.

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

Nike reprimand comes a day after Brooklyn Nets suspended Irving for at least five games without pay, saying he was “currently unfit to be associated” with the organization after sharing an anti-Semitic film, “Hebrews to Negroes: Wake Up Black America,” on social media. The Nets said Irving would be suspended “until he satisfies a series of objective corrective measures that address the adverse impact of his conduct.”

“We were appalled today, when given the opportunity in a media briefing, that Kyrie refused to state unequivocally that he held no anti-Semitic beliefs, nor to acknowledge specific hateful elements in the movie,” the Nets said in a statement Thursday after Irving appeared on a newscast. conference. “It was not the first time he had the opportunity – but failed – to clarify.”

Jonathan Greenblatt, chief executive of the Anti-Defamation League, called the press conference a “debacle”, adding that the ADL could not “in good conscienceto accept the $500,000 Irving had agreed to donate the day before to anti-hate causes.

Irving had for days refused to acknowledge or apologize for anti-Semitism before writing on Instagram on Thursday evening that he “released a documentary containing false anti-Semitic statements, narratives and language that is false and offensive to the Jewish race / religion”.

He said he took ‘full responsibility and liability for my actions’, adding, ‘To all Jewish families and communities who are hurt and affected by my position, I am deeply sorry for causing you pain. , and I apologize.” He said he “initially reacted out of emotion by being unfairly labeled an anti-Semite, instead of focusing on the healing process for my Jewish brothers and sisters who were hurt by the hate speech in the documentary. “.

Irving has a history of controversy. He was candid about his refusal to get a coronavirus shot and New York City’s vaccination mandate. The tiff led to the Nets banning Irving for more than two months last season. Irving said at the time that it was “not a political thing here” but “about my life and what I choose to do”.

The Nets, eaten up by Irving’s controversial behavior and mired in a slow start this season, recently parted ways with coach Steve Nash.

Irving’s suspension by the Nets and fallout with Nike comes after Adidas cut ties with Ye, the entertainer formerly known as Kanye West, after he repeatedly made anti-Semitic comments on social media . Experts have warned of increasingly brazen anti-Semitism at a time when incidents of harassment, vandalism and violence directed against Jews have reached their highest level in decades.

Ben Golliver contributed to this report.

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