Nike has turned Kyrie Irving’s suspension into a separation. And a forgone conclusion into a reality.
A month after Irving had his relationship with Nike suspended, now the athletic apparel giant officially parted ways with him. The news was first reported Monday by The Athletic, and confirmed by The Post through a source close to Irving.
The 30-year-old Nets star has one of the NBA’s most popular signature shoes, but is now going to be not just a free agent this summer when his deal with Brooklyn expires, but also a shoe free agent as well in the sneaker wars. A seven-time All-Star, Irving is averaging 24.4 points, 4.4 assists and 4.4 rebounds in 17 games.
The move brings to an end an eight-year relationship between Irving and Nike. He’d had an $11 million contract with the Nike as of 2019, according to Forbes. The apparel giant was about to release the new Kyrie 8, but announced last month those plans were scrapped in the wake of his suspension by Brooklyn.
In October, Irving had made social media posts linking to an anti-Semitic film. After he refused to apologize, the Nets suspended him a week later for a minimum of five games without pay on Nov. 3.
The next day, Nike announced it’s own suspension of Irving.
“At Nike, we believe there is no place for hate speech and we condemn any form of anti-Semitism. 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,” Nike had said in a statement. “We are deeply saddened and disappointed by the situation and its impact on everyone.”
Nike founder Phil Knight went a step further on CNBC, intimating this next outright firing was coming.
“Kyrie stepped over the line. It’s kind of that simple. He made some statements that we just can’t abide by and that’s why we ended the relationship. And I was fine with that,” Knight said, adding, “I would doubt that we go back. But I don’t know for sure.”
Nike itself has been criticized over the years for reported use of using sweatshops and forced labor in Asia. Boston star Jaylen Brown – who has been a vocal supporter of Irving, and like his former Celtic teammate is a vice president of the NBPA – ripped Nike on Twitter after Knight’s comments.
“Since when did Nike care about ethics?” Brown asked rhetorically.
Irving has since returned from his Nets suspension on Nov. 20. He’s played nine games since returning, and is coming off an 18-poiint outing in Sunday’s loss against Brown and the Celtics.
- Nike ends longtime partnership with Kyrie Irving
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