Nike suspends relationship with Kyrie Irving, cancels Kyrie 8 launch

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Nike said late Friday it was suspending its relationship with NBA star Kyrie Irving, the latest case of the basketball player sharing an anti-Semitic video on social media and refusing for days to apologize or renounce his anti-Semitism.

“We believe there is no place for hate speech at Nike and we condemn any form of anti-Semitism,” the company said in a statement. “To that end, we have made the decision to immediately end our relationship with Kyrie Irving and will no longer be releasing the Kyrie 8. According to industry publications, the Kyrie 8 was scheduled to release this month.”

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

The rebuke from Nike comes a day after the Brooklyn Nets suspended Irving at least five games without pay, saying he is “not currently fit to be associated” with the organization after sharing anti-Semitic film “Hebrews to Negroes: Wake Up Black America” ​​on social media. The Nets said Irving will be suspended “until he completes a series of objective remedial measures that will address the harmful effects of his conduct.”

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“When we had the opportunity today during the media session, we were troubled that Kyrie refused to unequivocally say that he has no anti-Semitic beliefs, nor did he acknowledge the specific hateful material in the film,” the Nets said in a statement Thursday after Irving’s news appearance. conference. “It wasn’t the first time he had a chance to explain, but he failed.

Jonathan Greenblatt, head of the Anti-Defamation League, described the press conference as a “debacle” and added that the ADL cannot “with a clear conscience” accept the $500,000 Irving agreed to donate the day before the hate.

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For several days, Irving refused to acknowledge or apologize for anti-Semitism wrote on Instagram late Thursday that it “posted a documentary that contained false anti-Semitic claims, narratives and language that was false and offensive to the Jewish race/religion.”

He said he took “full responsibility and accountability for his actions”, adding: “To all the Jewish families and communities who have suffered and suffered as a result of my duties, I deeply regret the pain I have caused you and I apologize.” He said he “initially reacted out of emotion at being wrongly labeled an anti-Semitic, instead of focusing on the healing process for my Jewish brothers and sisters who were hurt by the hateful remarks in the documentary.”

Irving has a history of controversy. He spoke openly about his refusal to get the coronavirus vaccine and New York’s vaccination mandate. As a result, the Nets suspended Irving for more than two months last season. Irving said at the time that it was “not a political thing” but “with my life and what I choose to do.”

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

Irving was suspended by the Nets and dropped by Nike after Adidas cut ties with Ye, the artist 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 against Jews are at their highest level in decades.

Ben Golliver contributed to this report.


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