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Nike Officially Ends Partnership with Kyrie Irving Over Link to Antisemitic Film

Kyrie Irving, a basketball player for the Brooklyn Nets, contracted with Nike to produce his basketball shoe line. Nike and Irving have been working together on this shoe line since 2014. The $11 million-a-year contract should have expired in October 2023.

In late October 2022, Irving posted a link to an antisemitic film on social media. Irving and the Nets held two press conferences following his posting of the film link. Irving declined to apologize and disavow antisemitism. The Nets decided to suspend Irving, and Nike suspended its relationship with Irving around the same time. Irving returned to playing basketball in late November after missing eight games. During his suspension, the Nets required him to apologize and attend antisemitic and sensitivity training. Ahead of his return, Irving said, "I'm not antisemitic, I never have been. I don't have hate in my heart for the Jewish people or anyone that identifies as a Jew. I'm not anti-Jewish or any of that."

One of Nike's co-founders, Phil Knight, told CNBC that Irving "made some statements that we just can't abide by, and that's why we ended the relationship. I was fine with that." According to ESPN, 68% of NBA players wear Nike sneakers in games, and the annual Kyrie model is one of the most popular. Irving's agent said that the parting with Nike was mutual. With Irving free to bring his line of shoes to another company, it is not yet known whether other brands may sign a contract with him.