NEW YORK — Nike suspended its relationship with Kyrie Irving on Friday amid the storm of anti-Semitism sparked by the Brooklyn Nets star.
The clothing giant’s decision comes a day after the The Nets suspended Irving for at least five games citing Irving’s “inability to disavow anti-Semitism” either on social media or in meetings with reporters.
Hours after the suspension was issued, Irving issued an apology on Instagram, but Nike still distanced itself from him on Friday, saying it would not be releasing the Kyrie 8 shoe which was due to be available this month.
“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.
“We are deeply saddened and disappointed by the situation and its impact on everyone.”
Irving has come under intense scrutiny since a social media post last week in which he linked to the film ‘Hebrews to Negroes: Wake up Black America’ – a 2018 film widely condemned for containing a range of anti-Semitic tropes.
Nets manager Sean Marks said Friday that suspending Irving was the “best course of action” for the club.
“He refused to disavow this until his tweet last night,” Marks said. “I think that was the best course of action. As things stand, he’s just been suspended.
But Marks said Irving’s apology was just the start of his return to court.
“There are going to be corrective measures and measures that are going to be put in place for him,” Marks said.
He said Irving should seek advice and speak with some anti-hate and Jewish leaders in the community.
“He’s going to have to sit with them, he’s going to have to sit with the organization after that and we’ll assess and see if it’s the right opportunity to bring him back.”
Marks, the first New Zealand NBA player who was named Nets general manager in 2016, said he hoped to see some change in Irving.
“I think after something like this you would always hope for a change, a change in feelings, a change in attitude,” Marks said.
Nets star forward Kevin Durant said he trusts the organization to make the right decision on the matter.
“I’m not here to judge anyone or disparage anyone for how they feel or their views or anything,” Durant said. “I just didn’t like anything that was going on.
“I feel like it was all pointless. I felt like we could have just kept playing basketball and been quiet as an organization. I don’t like any of that.
Durant then tweeted out a clarification of his comments making it clear that his remarks should not be seen as condoning hate speech or anti-Semitism.
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