Nike and Kyrie Irving split up after antisemitism controversy

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BROOKLYN, NY – DECEMBER 2: Kyrie Irving #11 of the Brooklyn Nets prepares to shoot a free throw during the game against the Toronto Raptors on December 2, 2022 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2022 NBAE (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)
Nathaniel S. Butler | National Basketball Association | Getty Images

Nike has officially cut ties with Kyrie Irving, the company said Monday.

The Brooklyn Nets star is no longer under contract with the footwear giant after Irving shared antisemitic content on social media and then refused for a time to say he was against antisemitism.

A Nike spokesperson didn’t immediately make any additional comment about the move.

Shetellia Riley Irving, Irving’s agent, told CNBC the decision was mutual.

“We have mutually decided to part ways and wish Nike the best in their future endeavors,” she said.

Irving didn’t immediately comment on the news but did post a video on Twitter that apparently referenced the severed contract with Nike.

“There’s nothing more priceless than being free,” the video is captioned.

The decision to sever ties with Irving comes just a month after Nike suspended its agreement with the longtime guard and announced it wouldn’t be releasing the latest version of his sneakers, the Kyrie 8.

“At Nike, we believe there is no place for hate speech and we condemn any form of antisemitism,” the company said in a statement at the time.

Nike founder Phil Knight told CNBC in an interview last month that he believed Irving stepped over the line.

The Kyrie 8 was slated to be released in late November. Irving has been under contract with Nike since 2014.

The Brooklyn Nets, where Irving has played since 2019, suspended Irving for at least five games without pay after he tweeted the antisemitic video and then failed to “unequivocally say he has no antisemitic beliefs.”

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver had sought an apology from Irving and when one didn’t come, he said the athlete is “currently unfit to be associated with the Brooklyn Nets.”

The two later met and Irving issued an apology on his Instagram page. He later told reporters he doesn’t “stand for anything close to hate speech or antisemitism or anything that is going against the human race.”

“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,” Irving said in late November.

Ye, the rapper formerly known as Kanye West, was dropped from Adidas and Gap after making antisemitic statements earlier this year.

The musician defended Irving in an Instagram post on Halloween.

“There’s some real ones still here,” Ye wrote on Oct. 31 alongside a black and white photo of Irving.

Irving returned to the Nets on Nov. 20 after he missed eight games. The Nets are in eighth place in the NBA’s Eastern Conference, at 13-12.

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