Nike Officially Cuts Ties With Kyrie Irving

Player's agent says decision was mutual
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Nov 5, 2022 5:30 AM CDT
Updated Dec 5, 2022 6:10 PM CST
Nike Cuts Ties With Kyrie Irving
The Brooklyn Nets' Kyrie Irving speaks before the team's basketball game against the New Orleans Pelicans on Oct. 19 in New York.   (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II, File)
UPDATE Dec 5, 2022 6:10 PM CST

Nike has officially broken up with Kyrie Irving, a month after it suspended its relationship with the Brooklyn Nets guard. The company canceled plans to release his latest signature shoe last month after he tweeted a link to antisemitic content. "Kyrie is no longer a Nike athlete," a company spokesperson told ESPN on Monday. Shetellia Riley Irving, Irving’s agent—and stepmother—said it was a joint decision. "We have mutually decided to part ways and wish Nike the best in their future endeavors," she told CNBC. Irving, who first signed with Nike in 2011, was also suspended by the Nets last month. He missed eight games but returned after apologizing.

Nov 5, 2022 5:30 AM CDT

Nike has suspended its relationship with Kyrie Irving and canceled its plans to release his next signature shoe, the latest chapter in the ongoing fallout since the Brooklyn Nets guard tweeted a link to a film containing antisemitic material. The shoe giant announced Friday night that it will halt its relationship with Irving, who has been suspended by the Nets for what the team called a repeated failure to "unequivocally say he has no antisemitic beliefs." The Nets made that move Thursday, banning Irving without pay for at least five games, and a day later, Nike made its decision. Those actions followed widespread criticism—from, among many others, the Anti-Defamation League and NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, per the AP.

"At Nike, we believe there is no place for hate speech and we condemn any form of antisemitism," the Beaverton, Ore.-based company said. "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." The company added: "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. His 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.

Irving posted a tweet—which has since been deleted—last week with a link to the documentary Hebrews to Negroes: Wake Up Black America!, which includes Holocaust denial and conspiracy theories about Jews. In a contentious postgame interview session last Saturday, Irving defended his right to post what he wants. On Wednesday, Irving said he opposes all forms of hate, and he and the Nets announced they'd each donate $500,000 toward groups that work to eradicate it. Silver then issued a new statement calling on Irving by name to apologize, and Irving refused to give a direct answer when asked Thursday if he has antisemitic beliefs. That, evidently, was the last straw for the Nets, who suspended him. Hours later, Irving posted an apology on Instagram for not explaining the specific beliefs he agreed and disagreed with when he posted the documentary.

(Read more Kyrie Irving stories.)

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