Kyrie Irving via Brooklyn Nets YouTube

Nike and Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving ended their business relationship after the sports apparel giant defamed him and accused him of anti-Semitism.

Kyrie Irving via Brooklyn Nets YouTube

CBS News reports Nike issued a one-line statement announcing their relationship was over. Nike stated, “Kyrie Irving is no longer a Nike athlete.”

Irving’s agent Shetellia Riley Irving told CBS MoneyWatch “both Nike and Kyrie mutually decided to part ways.”

She added, “We wish Nike nothing but the best in their future endeavors.”

Kyrie Irving, Nets @ Cavs, 17 January 2022 Photo Credit: Erik Drost, CC BY 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

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Irving appeared to react to the end of the relationship with Nike. He shared a meme that reads, “There’s nothing more priceless than being free.”

Kyrie Irving Twitter

In another tweet he wrote, “Anyone who has even spent their hard earned money on anything I have ever released, I consider you FAMILY and we are forever connected. it’s time to show how powerful we are as a community.”

Kyrie Irving Twitter

According to Sportico, Irving’s shoe deal with Nike was had “an average annual value of nearly $11 million.”

The outlet also noted that his shoes were “among the most popular for NBA players to wear, second behind only Kobe’s kicks during the 2019-20 season.”

Kyrie Irving during Nets @ Cavs, 17 January 2022 Photo Credit: Erik Drost, CC BY 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

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The deal comes to an end after Nike defamed Irving accusing him of anti-Semitism in the wake of posting to his Twitter account an Amazon link to the film Hebrews to Negroes: Wake Up Black America.

Kyrie Irving Twitter

After sharing this link, Nike announced on November 4th they suspended their relationship with Irving and would not launch his new Kyrie 8 shoes.

As reported by The Athletic’s Shams Charania Nike denounced Irving stating, “At Nike, we believe there is no place for hate speech and we condemn any form of antisemitism…We are deeply saddened and disappointed by the situation and its impact on everyone.”

Shams Charnia Twitter

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Nike co-founder Phil Knight then appeared on CNBC and stated, “Kyrie stepped over the line. It’s kind of that simple. He made some statements that we just can’t abide by and that’s why we ended the relationship. And yea, I was fine with that.”

Knight would later add, “He was dug in… I would doubt that we would go back, but I don’t know for sure.”

Irving initially reacted to attacks against him for sharing the link saying, “In terms of the backlash or what people call it, we’re in 2022, history is not supposed to be hidden from anybody. And I’m not a divisive person when it comes to religion. I embrace all walks of life. You see it on all my platforms. I talk to all races, all cultures, all religions.”

My response would be, it’s not about educating yourself on what Semitism is and what anti-Semitism is, it’s really about learning the root words of where these come from and understanding that this is an African heritage belonging to the people,” Irving stated. “Africa is in it whether we want to dismiss it or not. So the claims of anti-Semitism and who are the original Chosen people of God and we go into these religious conversations and it’s a big No-no. I don’t live my life that way.”

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He elaborated, “I grew up in a melting pot and I say a melting pot of all races: white, black, red yellow, Jewish, Christian, Muslim. And you can see the way I live my life now. I’m not here to be divisive so they can push their agenda — I don’t want to say they because I’m not identifying anyone one group or race of people, but I’m in a unique position to have a level of influence on my community.”

“And what I post does not mean that I support everything that’s being said or everything that’s being done or I’m campaigning for anything. All I do is post things for my people in my community and those that it’s actually going to impact. Anybody else that has criticism and obviously it wasn’t meant for them,” he declared.

Irving also asserted, “I’m not going to stand down on anything I believe in. I’m only going to get stronger because I’m not alone. I have a whole army around me. We’re in 2022. History is not supposed to be hidden from anybody, and I’m not a divisive person when it comes to religion.”

Kyrie Irving via YESNetwork YouTube

When asked if had any anti-Semitic beliefs he responded, ”

Again, I’m going to repeat. I don’t know how the label becomes justified because you ask me the same questions over and over again, but this is not going to turn into a spin around cycle of questions upon questions. I told you guys how I felt. I respect all walks of life and embrace all walks of life. That’s where I sit.”

When the media pressed him for a yes or no answer, Irving replied, “I cannot be anti-Semitic if I know where I come from. I cannot be anti-Semitic if I know where I come from.”

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He also issued a joint statement with the NBA and the Anti-Defamation League saying, “I oppose all forms of hatred and oppression and stand strong with communities that are marginalized and impacted every day.”

Irving added, “I am aware of the negative impact of my post towards the Jewish community and I take responsibility. I do not believe everything said in the documentary was true or reflects my morals and principles. I am a human being learning from all walks of life and I intend to do so with an open mind and a willingness to listen. So from my family and I, we meant no harm to any one group, race or religion of people, and wish to only be a beacon of truth and light.”

Kyrie Irving via Brooklyn Nets YouTube

After being suspended for eight games by the Brooklyn Nets over the tweet, Irving told SNY’s Ian Begley, “I don’t stand for anything close to hate speech or antisemitism or anything that is going against the human race.”

He added, “I feel like we all should have an opportunity to speak for ourselves when things are assumed about us and I feel it was necessary for me to stand in this place and take accountability for my actions because there was a way I should have handled all this and as I look back and reflect when I had the opportunity to offer my deep regrets to anyone that felt threatened or felt hurt by what I posted, that wasn’t my intent at all.”

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Not only has Irving made it crystal clear what his beliefs are, but Amazon boss Andy Jassy also indicated that the film does not contain hate content.

During an appearance at the New York Times Deal Book conference Jassy was asked about whether Amazon would continue to sell the documentary film. He replied, “Look, I’m Jewish too, and I am worried about anti-Semitism and I find several parts of that content very objectionable, but I think that you have to have principles if you’re going to manage something as large as we do with hundreds of millions of customers.”

“Again, to me, you have to be willing to allow viewpoints that are different from your own if the primary purpose of the content is not hate,” Jassy added.

What do you make of Kyrie Irving and Nike parting ways?

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