Nike has suspended a sponsorship deal with Kyrie Irving due to antisemitic posts on social media.
Recently, the world-renowned sportswear brand announced that a deal with the basketball star and a joint plan to launch shoes had been canceled due to the controversy.
The 30-year-old athlete signed with Nike in 2011 and struck a deal with the company to produce an exclusive line of footwear just three years later. According to international media, the agreement left him at least 11 million dollars a year.
However, the sportswear giant released a statement, saying the company had no place for hate speech and condemned “any form of antisemitism.”
“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 statement read.
“We are deeply saddened and disappointed by the situation and its impact on everyone,” it added.
Nike’s announcement, which also means that the Kyrie 8 trainer shoes, first set to be released next week, have been pulled, came after the Brooklyn Nets took action to punish the player.
Irving had been banned for at least five games with his team, the Brooklyn Nets, after allegedly sharing antisemitic material.
When announcing the punishment, the club said it was dismayed the player “unequivocally” denied holding antisemitic beliefs. Additionally, it commented that Irving was not currently fit “to be associated with the Brooklyn Nets.”
After the controversy, Irving issued an apology and said he was deeply sorry for his actions.
Although he originally defended retweeting a link to a film that denies the Holocaust and includes conspiracy theories about Jews, the American basketball star said he took full responsibility for what he had done.
“I want to clarify any confusion on where I stand fighting against antisemitism by apologizing for posting the documentary without context and a factual explanation outlining the specific beliefs in the documentary I agreed with and disagreed with,” he wrote on his Instagram account.
Irving went on to say that he had no intention of disrespecting any Jewish cultural history or perpetuating hatred and apologized for the pain caused to Jewish families and communities.
However, it is not the first time that the player has been involved in a controversy that ended in a suspension from the Nets since he was banned from playing home games last year after refusing to be vaccinated against Covid-19. Irving also had to apologize to science teachers for questioning whether the earth was round.