Kyrie stepped over the line. It’s kind of that simple. And so he made some statements that we just can’t abide by. And that’s where we ended the relationship.
(New York Daily News) – Nike co-founder Phil Knight said Kyrie Irving’s deal with the shoe brand is likely over and doubts that the star guard will be welcomed back to the company. Knight added that he doesn’t “know for sure” about the decision in a television interview with CNBC.
“Kyrie stepped over the line. It’s kind of that simple. And so he made some statements that we just can’t abide by. And that’s where we ended the relationship,” Knight said in the interview.
The company announced last week that they suspended their relationship with Irving after the guard posted links to an antisemitic film on his social media accounts. Following the posts, Irving refused to denounce the movie or apologize. The Brooklyn Nets handed Irving a minimum five-game suspension for his actions, stating that he was “unfit to be associated” with organization.
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The brand also announced last week that they will not release the Kyrie 8, Irving’s new signature shoe.
Knight said the star guard was “dug in” as he decided to not immediately apologize or condemn the movie “Hebrews to Negroes: Wake Up Black America.” After getting suspended by his team, Irving issued an apology on his Instagram account.
Irving’s contract with Nike was set to expire after the 2022-23 season and ESPN reported in May that the brand was unlikely to offer an extension. The recent firestorm all but confirms that a Nike extension will not be on the horizon for the seven-time All-Star.
In the television interview, Knight discussed the process Nike goes through when deciding to partner with an athlete.
“We look at who we sign and how much we pay, and we look at not only how good the athlete is, but how his or her character [is], so it’s not an exact science, but it’s a process that we go through with a lot of intensity, with a lot of people sticking their hand in it, and that’s one that goes all the way to the CEO because some of the numbers [athletes] are paid are pretty big,” he said.