1667658884_0x0.jpg

Nike Latest To Drop NBA Star

Topline

The week-long saga spurred by NBA star Kyrie Irving’s refusal to back down from antisemitic content he shared came to a head Thursday after the Brooklyn Nets suspended Irving and the controversy-prone Irving apologized—now he’s out of a lucrative deal with Nike, too.

Key Facts

Irving tweeted a link last Thursday to the film Hebrews to Negroes: Wake Up Black America, which perpetuates harmful tropes about Jews including Satan worship and plots for world domination, and refused to apologize at an explosive Saturday press conference (Irving deleted the offending tweet Sunday and claimed as an “OMNIST”—or a person who believes in all religions—he can’t be an antisemite).

Irving’s actions picked up a notable backer in antisemitic rapper Kanye West, who called Irving one of the “real ones” in an Instagram post Sunday, less than a week after West was dropped by corporate America last month for threatening violence against Jews.

The controversy seemingly de-escalated Wednesday when Irving said he’d “take responsibility” for the harm caused by the post but reignited when he refused to say he wasn’t antisemitic in an explosive Thursday afternoon press conference and deflected blame, saying he did not produce the documentary.

The Nets suspended Irving without pay for at least five games later Thursday, explaining “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.”

Shortly after the suspension, Irving issued his first unequivocal apology, posting to his Instagram, the film “contained some false anti-Semitic statements, narratives, and language that were untrue and offensive to the Jewish Race/Religion, and I take full accountability and responsibly for my actions.”

Despite his contrition, the ideas promoted by Irving continue to fall upon more eyes and ears: Sales for the book by the same name of the problematic film soared, and Hebrews to Negroes: Wake Up Black America is among the most listened-to audio books in the country across numerous platforms.

Nike cut ties with Irving late Friday, walking back on its launch of Irving’s new shoe, the Kyrie 8 just four days before it was scheduled to be released, the company stated in a statement, saying “we believe there is no place for hate speech and we condemn any form of antisemitism.”

Key Background

Irving has yet to face any corporate pushback despite the public backlash, though his shoe sponsor Nike released a statement Monday condemning hate speech and antisemitism. On Tuesday, TNT broadcasters and former players Charles Barkley and Shaquille O’Neal each called Irving an “idiot” and urged NBA Commission Adam Silver to suspend him. Brooklyn’s billionaire owner Joe Tsai condemned Irving in a Friday evening tweet, but the league and its players’ union did not address the matter for days. Irving is no stranger to missing time on the court due to controversy, missing more than half of the Nets’ games last season over his refusal to receive the Covid-19 vaccine. A self-proclaimed “free thinker,” Irving has touted several dubious or downright false conspiracy theories over the years, famously claiming the earth is flat and that the federal government played a role in the murders of John F. Kennedy and Bob Marley (Irving later apologized in 2018 for his flat-earth beliefs, which he made as a Boston Celtics player). Irving came under fire in September for sharing a clip from conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, who is on the hook for $965 billion for claiming the Sandy Hook massacre that claimed the lives of 20 elementary school children was a hoax.

Surprising Fact

Irving and the Nets each pledged to donate $500,000 to the Anti-Defamation League, but the organization said Thursday it would not accept Irving’s donation after he declined to denounce antisemitism at the standoffish press conference.

Tangent

Amid the Irving-inspired firestorm off the court, the Nets fired head coach Steve Nash.

Tangent

There is precedent for the NBA taking action against players spewing antisemitic rhetoric, as it fined Miami Heat center Meyers Leonard $50,000 and suspended him for a week after he said an antisemitic slur online last March. The league fined Kobe Bryant $100,000 in 2011 and Anthony Edwards $40,000 this year for using anti-gay slurs. The league has forcefully punished owners found to use racist language, forcing Donald Sterling to sell the Los Angeles Clippers in 2014 and suspending Phoenix Suns owner Robert Sarver for a year in September after the two owners used the N-word on several occasions.

Further Reading

Sales Spike For Antisemitic Book Touted By Kyrie Irving (Forbes)

Nets Suspend Kyrie Irving For Pushing Antisemitic Film (Forbes)




Source link

Leave A Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *