Kyrie Irving relationship with Nike likely over, Phil Knight says
Phil Knight casts doubt on Kyrie Irving's future with Nike originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia
Nike and Kyrie Irving are likely done for good.
That's at least according to Nike co-founder Phil Knight who told CNBC this week that he doubts the shoe manufacturing giant would go back to having a relationship with the Brooklyn Nets star.
"I would doubt that we go back," Knight said. "But I don't know for sure."
Nike announced on Nov. 4 that it had suspended its relationship with Irving effective immediately. Nike also said it would no longer launch Irving's new signature shoe, the Kyrie 8.
“At Nike, we believe there is no place for hate speech and we condemn any form of antisemitism," Nike said in a statement. “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.
“We are deeply saddened and disappointed by the situation and its impact on everyone."
The Kyrie 8 was expected to be released this month.
The canceled shoe launch came one day after the Nets suspended Irving for at least five games for his "deeply disturbing" failure to "disavow antisemitism" in the aftermath of his promotion of an antisemitic film on social media. Irving partook in a couple of media sessions where he defended his posts, didn't apologize for them and refused to directly answer if he had any antisemitic beliefs.
“Kyrie stepped over the line,” Knight said this week. “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.”
Hours after he was suspended by the Nets, Irving finally issued 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," Irving wrote on Instagram. "I initially reacted out of emotion to being unjustly labeled antisemitic, instead of focusing on the healing process of my Jewish brothers and sisters that were hurt from the hateful remarks made in the documentary.
"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. I had no intentions to disrespect any Jewish cultural history regarding the Holocaust or perpetuate any hate."
Irving signed with Nike in 2011 after being selected No. 1 overall in the NBA draft by the Cleveland Cavaliers. He's had a signature shoe line with the company since 2014. Irving is estimated to make $11 million off his annual endorsement deal with Nike.
As of Thursday afternoon, previous editions of Irving's shoes were still available for purchase on Nike's website.