Nike Suspends Kyrie Irving Partnership After Nets PG’s Promotion of Antisemitic Film
AP Photo/Jessie Alcheh
Nike announced Friday that it has suspended its partnership with Brooklyn Nets point guard Kyrie Irving after he promoted an antisemitic film on his social media accounts last week.
Nike said in a statement, per CNBC’s Sara Eisen:
« 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 has been in partnership with Nike since 2014, collaborating with the company on a number of signature basketball shoes. However, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Ramona Shelburne reported in May that Nike was unlikely to extend Irving a signature shoe deal beyond 2023 due to « uncertainties surrounding his NBA future. »
Irving promoted Hebrews to Negroes: Wake Up Black America on social media last week. The film includes ideas « in line with more extreme factions of the Black Hebrew Israelites, which have a long history of misogyny, homophobia, xenophobia, Islamophobia, and especially antisemitism, » according to a Rolling Stone article published by Jon Blistein.
The Nets announced Thursday that they had suspended Irving for at least five games after he « refused to unequivocally say he has no antisemitic beliefs » while speaking with the media earlier in the day.
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Statement from the Brooklyn Nets pic.twitter.com/699px8XYpx
Thursday’s media session was one of a number of opportunities Irving received this week to denounce antisemitism. He told reporters that he « respects all walks of life » but did not explicitly apologize or state at the time that he had no antisemitic beliefs.
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Kyrie Irving is asked if he has any anti-Semitic beliefs: pic.twitter.com/hHI8FFqMbs
After his suspension from the Nets was announced, Irving issued an apology to the Jewish community via Instagram:
« While doing research on YHWH, I posted a Documentary that contained some false anti-Semitic statements, narratives, and language that were untrue and offensive to the Jewish Race/Religion, and I take full accountability and responsibly for my actions. I am grateful to have a big platform to share knowledge and I want to move forward by having an open dialogue to learn more and grow from this.
« To All Jewish families and Communities that are hurt and affected from my post, I am deeply sorry to have caused you pain, and I apologize. I initially reacted out of emotion to being unjustly labeled Anti-Semitic, instead of focusing on the healing process of my Jewish Brothers and Sisters that were hurt from the hateful remarks made in the Documentary. I want to clarify any confusion on where I stand fighting against Anti- semticism by apologizing for posting the documentary without context and a factual explanation outlining the specific beliefs in the Documentary I agreed with and disagreed with. I had no intentions to disrespect any Jewish cultural history regarding the Holocaust or perpetuate any hate. I am learning from this unfortunate event and hope we can find understanding between us all. I am no different than any other human being. I am a seeker of truth and knowledge, and I know who I Am. »
Before Irving’s apology, both NBA Commissioner Adam Silver and Nets governor Joe Tsai had openly expressed their disappointment in the veteran:
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The following was released by the NBA. pic.twitter.com/iD3GkJvekR
If Irving is suspended for the minimum five games, he will be eligible to return to the Nets’ lineup on Nov. 13 against the Los Angeles Lakers.