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Nike suspends deal with Kyrie Irving, cancels shoe release after antisemitism debacle

The consequences for Kyrie Irving are piling up after the Brooklyn Nets guard's tweeting of an antisemitic video last week.

A day after Irving was suspended at least five games without pay by the Nets, sports apparel giant Nike announced it was suspending its relationship with Irving effective immediately and canceling the launch of his Kyrie 8 signature shoe, per CNBC's Sara Eisen.

Nike denounced antisemitism in its statement:

At Nike, we believe there is no place for hate speech and we condemn any form of antisemitism. 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.

Irving apologized late Thursday night for posting the video, which contained a litany of antisemitic conspiracy theories and falsehoods, including a fabricated quote from Adolf Hitler. It was apparently too little, too late for Nike.

How much money does Kyrie Irving lose from Nike dropping him?

Irving was already set to lose roughly $2.2 million in salary from his unpaid suspension. Losing his Nike deal should be much more costly.

Per Sportico, Irving was paid $11 million last season from his deal with Nike, and his shoe has been one of the top 5 best selling signature shoes for the company, though his deal is only a fraction of what big names like Michael Jordan and LeBron James are getting these days.

Sportico also noted Irving's shoe was also among the most popular shoes for NBA players to wear during games.

This fallout is an echo of what happened with Kanye West a couple weeks ago, as the rapper had a much more lucrative deal with Adidas spiked after a series of nakedly antisemitic statements and social media posts.

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - OCTOBER 31: Kyrie Irving #11 of the Brooklyn Nets looks on during a break in the action during the third quarter of the game against the Indiana Pacers at Barclays Center on October 31, 2022 in New York City. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Dustin Satloff/Getty Images)
Kyrie Irving was directly asked, yes or no, if he held antisemitic beliefs. The Nets guard declined to say no. (Photo by Dustin Satloff/Getty Images) (Dustin Satloff via Getty Images)

Kyrie Irving had multiple chances to avoid this

It has been more than a week since Irving posted the video to his 4.6 million followers, with critics and repercussions increasing by the day.

The first blowback came from Nets owner Joseph Tsai, who tweeted Friday, a day after Irving's tweet, that he was disappointed Irving had promoted a video containing antisemitic disinformation. Irving responded by by tweeting the antisemitic label was "not justified."

The NBA and National Basketball Players Association, of which Irving is a vice president, both released statements condemning hate and antisemitism on Saturday, but didn't mention Irving by name. Irving squabbled with reporters and claimed tweeting the video wasn't akin to promoting it hours later, while also defending his past posting of an Alex Jones conspiracy theory.

Irving lied low for a few days, then the Nets tried to mend things Wednesday by releasing a statement quoting him as saying he acknowledged the tweet's negative impact on the Jewish community and pledging he would donate $500,000 to combat hate. Many noted Irving did not actually apologize, NBA commissioner Adam Silver among them, and then Irving threw gasoline on the fire Thursday by refusing to denounce the video or even say he holds no antisemitic beliefs.

That was the last straw for the Nets, who suspended him hours later. Irving finally apologized that night.

Irving had an entire week to do damage control, but instead spent it insisting it was his critics — some NBA Hall of Famers among them — who were making a mistake. We'll probably never know when Nike gave up on repairing things with Irving, but he certainly gave them plenty of time.