Suspended Brooklyn Nets‘ star Kyrie Irving is about to become the biggest free agent not only in the NBA but in the shoe market.
Irving’s deal shoe deal with Nike was suspended last Friday in the wake of his controversial post linking a film with antisemitic tropes and his refusal to condemn the movie and say he is not antisemitic unequivocally.
Nike’s co-founder Phil Knight said in an interview with Squawk Box CNBC that he doubts they would welcome the controversial guard back to their fold.
“Kyrie stepped over the line. It’s kind of that simple. So he made some statements that we just can’t abide by, and that’s why we ended the relationship. And yeah, I was fine with that.”Nike co-founder Phil Knight via CNBC
Irving’s partnership with Nike had been on the rocks for quite some time, but the antisemitism scandal hastened the end of their contract which is set to expire after the current NBA season.
Nike reportedly wasn’t keen on extending their partnership after the Nets star called Nike’s design of the Kyrie 8 “trash” in an Instagram post, claiming that he had “absolutely nothing to do with them” and the company planned “to release it without my okay regardless of what I say.” Irving later took his comments back but the cracks of their relationship lingered.
Irving was suspended for at least five games without pay. But it might take longer than that, as the Nets laid out a six-action remedial list for Irving to clear before he gets reinstated.
Irving met with NBA Commissioner Adam Silver earlier this week, one of the steps in clearing the hurdles to his path for a comeback.
Like the Nets, Knight said Nike gave Irving chances: “Same situation he was dug in.”
Knight explained that while their process of forging partnerships with athletes is not an exact science, they are not just looking at their marketability but also their character.
Nike and Irving seem at a point of no return.
“I doubt that we would go back but yeah, so that’s, but I don’t know for sure.”Nike co-founder Phil Knight via CNBC
Irving’s controversial opinions — from Earth is Flat to anti-vaccine and now this latest scandal — have caused him to lose more than $300 million in earnings on and off the court.
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