Nike has parted ways with Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving amid his anti-Semitic row.
The shoe giant announced it will halt its relationship with the Brooklyn guard, who has been suspended by the Nets for what the team called a repeated failure to “unequivocally say he has no anti-Semitic beliefs”.
“At Nike, we believe there is no place for hate speech and we condemn any form of anti-Semitism,” the Oregon-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.”
Irving has had a signature line with Nike since 2014.
“We are deeply saddened and disappointed by the situation and its impact on everyone,” Nike said.
Irving signed with Nike in 2011, shortly after becoming the No.1 pick in that year’s NBA draft.
Irving’s first signature shoe was released three years later, and the popularity of the Kyrie line led to him making a reported $US11 million (more than $17 million) annually just from the Nike endorsement.
The Kyrie 8 was expected to be released in the next week.
Nike’s decision came a day after the Nets handed down their suspension, which will last at least five games, and after NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said he wanted an apology from Irving over his decision to post a link to the documentary Hebrews to Negroes: Wake Up Black America, a film that contains anti-Semitic material.
When asked at a press conference if he has antisemitic beliefs, Irving said, “I told you guys how I felt. I respect all walks of life and embrace all walks of life. That’s where I sit. I cannot be antisemitic if I know where I come from.”
Later, hours after the Nets issued their suspension, Irving posted an apology on Instagram for not explaining the specific beliefs he agreed and disagreed with when he posted the documentary.
“To All Jewish families and Communities that are hurt and affected from my post, I am deeply sorry to have caused you pain, and I apologise,” Irving wrote.
“I initially reacted out of emotion to being unjustly labelled Anti-Semitic, instead of focusing on the healing process of my Jewish Brothers and Sisters that were hurt from the hateful remarks made in the Documentary.”