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    Nike and Kyrie Irving Officially End Relationship

    The sportswear giant suspended its partnership with the N.B.A. star last month, after he posted a link to an antisemitic film on social media.Nike and the N.B.A. star Kyrie Irving ended their business partnership on Monday, finalizing a break that began when the sportswear giant suspended the relationship last month after Mr. Irving posted a link to an antisemitic film on social media.“Kyrie Irving is no longer a Nike athlete,” Nike said in a statement.Mr. Irving’s contract with Nike, which has produced the basketball star’s shoe line since 2014, was set to expire in October 2023. At the time of the suspension, Nike said it would not release Mr. Irving’s latest shoe, the Kyrie 8.“We mutually decided to part ways and we just wish Nike all the best,” Shetellia Riley Irving, Mr. Irving’s agent, said. She declined to comment further.Mr. Irving, 30, was also suspended by the Brooklyn Nets last month, though he returned to the team on Nov. 20.A few days after his initial post with the link to the film, Mr. Irving posted an apology on Instagram. “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 apologize,” he wrote.Mr. Irving’s suspension last month came shortly after Kanye West made a series of antisemitic comments, causing numerous companies to cut ties with him. Notably, Adidas ended its relationship with Mr. West, who goes by Ye. Adidas, which had an entire division devoted to manufacturing and selling Yeezy merchandise, said it would likely face a loss of 250 million euros, or roughly $246 million, this year from ending that partnership.Mr. Irving’s shoes have been popular with fellow players and fans. Still, analysts have pointed out that Nike earns far more from ties to other notable stars, especially the basketball great Michael Jordan. Last year, the Jordan brand, which includes sneakers and other athletic wear, accounted for $5 billion of Nike’s $44.5 billion in total revenue. More

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    What to Know About Kyrie Irving’s Antisemitic Movie Post and the Fallout

    Irving, the Nets guard, has faced backlash since he promoted an antisemitic film on social media last month.Nets guard Kyrie Irving is facing backlash for posting a link on Twitter to an antisemitic film last month.For a week, he declined to apologize or say that he held no antisemitic beliefs, prompting the Nets on Nov. 3 to suspend him indefinitely. He has since apologized, but the fallout continues: On Nov. 4, Nike condemned hate and antisemitism, and suspended its relationship with Irving immediately.Irving, a seven-time N.B.A. All-Star, has been with the Nets since 2019. He won a championship with the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2016, but over the past few years he has often been discussed more for his off-court views. In a 2018 interview with The New York Times, he suggested that the Earth might be flat, and over the past year he had refused to be vaccinated against the coronavirus.Here is what you need to know.Here’s what you need to know:What did Irving post on Twitter?When did the backlash start?How did Irving respond?Why did the Nets suspend Irving?What did Irving say in his apology?Why did Nike cut ties with Irving after he apologized?Will Irving play for the Nets again?What did Irving post on Twitter?On Oct. 27, Irving tweeted a link to “Hebrew to Negroes: Wake Up Black America,” a 2018 film driven by antisemitic tropes about Jewish people lying about their origins. Among its false and outlandish claims is the assertion that the Holocaust never happened.Irving also made an Instagram post with a screenshot of the film’s rental page on Amazon, which he had linked to on Twitter. Neither post included a caption or comment from Irving.The Instagram post was part of a story, a format that expires after 24 hours; the tweet was deleted Oct. 30.In a letter dated Nov. 4, the Anti-Defamation League and the Nets called on Amazon to take down or add explanatory context to the film and a related book, writing that they were “designed to inflame hatred and, now that it was popularized by Mr. Irving, will lead directly to the harm of Jews.”When did the backlash start?On Oct. 28, Rolling Stone magazine reported on some of the film’s antisemitic messages. Many other news media outlets began reporting on the article and Irving’s tweet.That night, the Nets’ owner Joe Tsai posted about the situation on Twitter, adding that it was “bigger than basketball”:“I’m disappointed that Kyrie appears to support a film based on a book full of anti-semitic disinformation. I want to sit down and make sure he understands this is hurtful to all of us, and as a man of faith, it is wrong to promote hate based on race, ethnicity or religion.”On Oct. 29, the N.B.A. released a statement condemning hate speech, but it did not name Irving. On Nov. 1, the N.B.A. players’ union, the National Basketball Players Association, issued a statement condemning antisemitism, but like the N.B.A., it did not name Irving, who is one of the union’s vice presidents.Antisemitism in AmericaAntisemitism is one of the longest-standing forms of prejudice, and those who monitor it say it is now on the rise across the country.Perilous Times: With instances of hate speech on social media and reported incidents on the rise, this fall has become increasingly worrisome for American Jews.Kanye West: The rapper and designer, who now goes by Ye has been widely condemned for recent antisemitic comments. The fallout across industries has been swift.Kyrie Irving: The Nets suspended the basketball player after he defended his support of an antisemitic movie. His behavior appalled and frightened many of his Jewish fans.Midterms: No major contest this year has been shaped by concerns of antisemitism more prominently than the Pennsylvania governor’s race.How did Irving respond?Irving addressed his posts publicly for the first time Oct. 29, after the Nets lost to the Indiana Pacers at Barclays Center. During a contentious news conference, Irving doubled down on his support of the film and an antigovernment conspiracy theory promoted by the Infowars host Alex Jones.“History is not supposed to be hidden from anybody,” Irving said. He added: “I’m not going to stand down on anything I believe in. I’m only going to get stronger because I’m not alone. I have a whole army around me.”Irving accused an ESPN reporter of trying to “dehumanize” him as he and the reporter argued about whether Irving had “promoted” the film by posting about it.The Nets played the Pacers again Oct. 31 at Barclays Center and faced the Bulls in Chicago on Nov. 1, but the team did not make Irving available to reporters after either game. General Manager Sean Marks said the team did not “want to cause more fuss right now, more interaction with people.” (The Nets, who have struggled on the court, also fired their head coach, Steve Nash, on Nov. 1, but Marks said the move was not related to Irving’s situation.)On Nov. 2, Irving announced with the Anti-Defamation League that he would donate $500,000 to anti-hate causes. The Nets said they would do the same.“I am aware of the negative impact of my post towards the Jewish community and I take responsibility,” Irving said in a statement. “I do not believe everything said in the documentary was true or reflects my morals and principles.”Why did the Nets suspend Irving?Irving last played for the Nets in a Nov. 1 game against the Chicago Bulls. He scored just 4 points in 33 minutes.Dustin Satloff/Getty ImagesBy Nov. 3, Irving had not apologized, and he had not been clear about what content he disagreed with in the film. N.B.A. Commissioner Adam Silver said he would meet with Irving soon.“Kyrie Irving made a reckless decision to post a link to a film containing deeply offensive antisemitic material,” Silver said in a statement. He added: “I am disappointed that he has not offered an unqualified apology and more specifically denounced the vile and harmful content contained in the film he chose to publicize.”About 30 minutes after Silver’s statement, Irving spoke to reporters at a Nets practice: “I didn’t mean to cause any harm. I’m not the one that made the documentary.”When asked what specific points in the film he did not agree with, Irving responded vaguely. “Some of the criticism of the Jewish faith and the community, for sure,” he said. “Some points made in there that were unfortunate.”When Irving was asked if he had any antisemitic beliefs, he said he respected all walks of life. “I cannot be antisemitic if I know where I come from,” Irving said when he was asked to answer the question with a “yes” or “no.”Within hours, the Nets suspended him for at least five games, saying he was “unfit to be associated” with the team. “We were dismayed today, when given an opportunity in a media session, that Kyrie refused to unequivocally say he has no antisemitic beliefs, nor acknowledge specific hateful material in the film. This was not the first time he had the opportunity — but failed — to clarify,” the Nets said in a statement.“Such failure to disavow antisemitism when given a clear opportunity to do so is deeply disturbing, is against the values of our organization, and constitutes conduct detrimental to the team.”Marks, the general manager, said Irving would need to meet with Jewish leaders, go through counseling and meet with the team, among other measures, before he would be allowed to return.What did Irving say in his apology?Hours after he was suspended Nov. 3, Irving apologized in an Instagram post, saying he “had no intentions to disrespect any Jewish cultural history regarding the Holocaust or perpetuate any hate.”“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 apologize.I initially reacted out of emotion to being unjustly labeled 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.”Why did Nike cut ties with Irving after he apologized?Nike condemned antisemitism on Nov. 4 and suspended its relationship with Irving “effective immediately.” The company had produced his signature sneakers since 2014.Omar Rawlings/Getty ImagesIrving’s apology seemed to come too late for Nike, which suspended its relationship with him “effective immediately” on Nov. 4 and announced it would not launch his next signature sneaker, 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. “We are deeply saddened and disappointed by the situation and its impact on everyone.”Nike had produced Irving’s popular signature sneaker line since 2014; his contract expires in October 2023. One marketing expert said brands have become more conscious about their values in recent years.Will Irving play for the Nets again?The Nets said his suspension would last at least five games, meaning he cannot return until at least Nov. 13, when the Nets face the Lakers in Los Angeles.Marks, the general manager, said Irving’s apology was a “step in the right direction” but “certainly not enough.” It’s not clear if Irving will agree to meet with Jewish leaders or fulfill other mandates from the team. He has not spoken publicly since his apology.Some fans may not be ready to welcome him back, if that time comes. More than one million Jews live in New York City, and roughly 60 percent are in Brooklyn, where the Nets play at Barclays Center on Atlantic Avenue.Ben Berke, a Nets fan who lives in Astoria, Queens, told The Times that Irving’s apology was an “improvement.”“But I don’t want him on the team anymore,” he said.Marks said Nov. 4 that the Nets had not considered dropping Irving from the team.Reporting was contributed by More

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    Why Nike Can Afford to Drop Kyrie Irving, Exerts Say

    Kyrie Irving’s relationship with the athletic apparel giant has been lucrative, but his recent post about an antisemitic movie has led the company to suspend its dealings with him.Nike is facing plenty of challenges this year.A glut of sneakers and sports clothing has built up in recent months, leading to concerns that Nike will have to heavily mark down prices on shoes and sportswear if it wants to sell them during the competitive holiday season. That has taken a toll on its stock, which has fallen 41 percent in the past year.Then on Thursday, one of the superstar athletes with whom Nike partners, Kyrie Irving, was suspended by the Nets after he posted a link to an antisemitic film on social media.A day later, Nike suspended its relationship with the basketball star and said it would not release Mr. Irving’s new shoe, the Kyrie 8, which was supposed to hit the market on Tuesday. Nike has produced the shoe since 2014. The company does not disclose exactly how much revenue Mr. Irving’s shoes bring in, but it is only a fraction of what the company earns from its ties to other notable stars, especially the basketball great Michael Jordan.“There are some things that are outside of Nike’s control,” like supply chain and sourcing issues that are not so easily fixed, said David Swartz, an equity analyst at Morningstar. “This Kyrie Irving situation was in Nike’s control. They can drop him.”Nike did not respond to an email seeking comment on the financial implications of the suspension or the future of Mr. Irving’s relationship with the company.In its statement announcing the suspension of the relationship with Mr. Irving, the company said: “At Nike, we believe there is no place for hate speech and we condemn any form of antisemitism.” It went on to add, “We are deeply saddened and disappointed by the situation and its impact on everyone.”It was the second time in recent weeks that an athletic apparel company found itself in the middle of a controversy involving a celebrity partner.Last month, the rapper and designer Kanye West, who now goes by Ye, made a series of antisemitic remarks and wore a shirt with a slogan associated with white supremacists. Numerous companies and brands, including Balenciaga and the Creative Artists Agency, cut ties with the artist.But Adidas, which took slightly longer to sever its relationship with Ye, will suffer a significant financial impact. It had built an entire division inside the company dedicated to manufacturing and selling Yeezy merchandise. The company said the move would cost it 250 million euros, or roughly $246 million, this year.Unlike Adidas and Ye, Nike is not likely to experience the same sort of financial impact from suspending its relationship with Mr. Irving, whose contract with the company expires in October 2023.For Nike, the Jordan brand and its ties to Michael Jordan remain the gold standard. Last year, the Jordan Brand — which includes sneakers and other athletic wear — made up $5 billion of Nike’s $44.5 billion in total revenue.In the hopes of finding the next Mr. Jordan, Nike has inked deals with numerous basketball stars, including the Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James, and Mr. Irving’s Nets teammate Kevin Durant.Many early iterations of Mr. Irving’s sneakers have been popular among fans and fellow basketball players.On a December 2020 call with Wall Street analysts and investors, John Donahoe, the president and chief executive of Nike, said, “This quarter’s launches in basketball, including the LeBron 18 and the Kyrie 7 have sold incredibly well.”Using celebrities and athletes to hawk products, or even design and develop them, is nothing new. For athletic giants like Nike, Adidas and Under Armour, forming ties to entertainment stars or top sports figures has been extremely lucrative for decades. But linking a brand to a celebrity or an athlete has always had its perils and, in the age of social media, those risks are increasingly apparent.Brands “have always been worried about this with celebrity endorsements,” said Barbara Kahn, professor of marketing at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.She said that in the past, companies relied on tying advertising campaigns more to the attributes of their products or how those products would make shoppers feel.“What you’re now seeing brands having to grapple with is what their brand values are,” Ms. Kahn said. “That makes the branding decisions much more complicated.”Nike has at times embraced divisive endorsers and polarizing ad campaigns. But Mr. Irving’s antisemitic remarks seemed to make suspending him a straightforward decision, Ms. Kahn said. She added that it was a continuation of the diversity and equity values that it has been signaling to consumers since partnering with the former N.F.L. quarterback Colin Kaepernick in 2018.The situation involving Mr. Irving began last month when he posted a link on social media to the film “Hebrews to Negroes: Wake Up Black America,” which is driven by antisemitic tropes. Among its claims is that the Holocaust never happened.When the Nets suspended Mr. Irving a week later, it said he was “unfit to be associated” with the team because he had since declined to say that he had no antisemitic views.The Lakers superstar Mr. James told reporters that he believed what Mr. Irving had done “caused some harm to a lot of people.”On Thursday, after being suspended, Mr. Irving apologized on his Instagram account. “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 apologize,” he said.For Mr. Irving, who considers himself a sneakerhead, many of the shoes he collaborated on with Nike were personal, like his “I Love You Mom” series of shoes.But last year, Mr. Irving went after Nike and a version of his Kyrie 8 shoes, claiming that he was not involved in the design process and that the resulting footwear was “trash.”“Nike plans to release it without my okay regardless of what I say,” Mr. Irving wrote at the time in a post on his Instagram. He added, “So I apologize in advance to all of my sneaker heads and true supporters.” More

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    LeBron James and Deni Avdija React to Kyrie Irving Posts

    “If you are promoting or soliciting or saying harmful things to any community that harm people, then I don’t respect it,” LeBron James said. “I don’t condone it.”The Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James and Deni Avdija, a Washington Wizards forward from Israel, said Friday that they hoped Nets guard Kyrie Irving understood that he had hurt people when he promoted an antisemitic film on social media.Calling Irving a role model and great player who had made a mistake, Avdija said: “I don’t think it’s right to go out in public and publish it and let little kids that follow you see it and the generations to come after to think like that because it’s not true. And I don’t think it’s fair.”On Thursday, the Nets suspended Irving for at least five games, after he would not say that he did not have antisemitic beliefs. It had been a week since he tweeted a link to an antisemitic film and posted a screenshot of its online rental page to Instagram. He apologized late Thursday night, after he was suspended.James, who won an N.B.A. championship with Irving in Cleveland in 2016, said that he loved Irving but that what he had done was “unfortunate.”“I believe what Kyrie did caused some harm to a lot of people,” James said Friday in Los Angeles after the Lakers lost to the Utah Jazz. He added: “If you are promoting or soliciting or saying harmful things to any community that harm people, then I don’t respect it. I don’t condone it.”In 2018, James apologized for posting music lyrics on Instagram that included the phrase “getting that Jewish money.”“I actually thought it was a compliment, and obviously it wasn’t through the lens of a lot of people,” James said at the time.Few current N.B.A. players have spoken about Irving amid the public backlash to his social media posts. The N.B.A. said it had 120 international players at the start of the season last month, but Avdija was the only one from Israel. His comments about Irving came after the Nets beat the Wizards in Washington in the Nets’ first game since Irving’s suspension.“I think there need to be consequences for the actions that players do,” Avdija said. “I don’t know the amount, the punishment that the league gives, but I think it needs to be known that there’s no room for words like that.”Irving did not add captions or comments to his social media posts about the antisemitic 2018 film, “Hebrews to Negroes: Wake Up Black America.” But over the past week, he has been vague when asked what he did and did not agree with in the film. He has distanced himself from its claim that the Holocaust did not happen. On Wednesday, he announced with the Anti-Defamation League that he would donate $500,000 to anti-hate causes. The Nets said they would do the same.But Irving did not apologize at that time, drawing criticism from Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, the N.B.A. Hall of Famer who is known for his social justice work.“There was no explicit apology — which tells us everything about what he really believes,” Abdul-Jabbar said in a post on Substack. “Honestly, there’s little hope that he will change because he’s insulated by fame and money and surrounded by yes-people. There is no motivation to learn how to distinguish propaganda from facts. All that’s left is for the world to decide how it should respond to him.”Abdul-Jabbar also praised three former players who criticized Irving during a TNT broadcast of the Nets’ game against the Chicago Bulls on Tuesday: Charles Barkley, Shaquille O’Neal and Reggie Miller.Avdija said he hoped Irving was sorry. “He needs to understand that he gives example to people, and people look up to him,” he said. More