“We are deeply saddened and disappointed by the situation and the impact it has had on everyone,” Nike said.
The rebuke from Nike comes a day after the Brooklyn Nets suspended Irving for at least five games without pay, saying he “now deserves to be associated” with the organization after he shared antisemitic film, “Hebrews to Negroes: Wake Up Black America,” on social media. The Nets said Irving will be suspended “until he satisfies a series of remedial steps aimed at addressing the harmful impact of his conduct.”
“We are disappointed today, when given the opportunity in the media session, that Kyrie refused to openly say that he does not have antisemitic beliefs, nor did he acknowledge the specific hateful material in the film,” the Nets said in a statement Thursday after Irving’s appearance in the news . conference. “This is not the first time he has had the opportunity – but failed – to clarify.”
Jonathan Greenblatt, chief executive of the Anti-Defamation League, described the news conference as a “debacle,” adding that the ADL could not “in good conscience” received the $500,000 Irving had agreed to donate to anti-hate causes the day before.
Irving has for days refused to acknowledge or apologize for his antisemitism before writing on Instagram late Thursday that he “sent a Documentary containing several false anti-Semitic statements, narratives, and language that is incorrect and offensive to the Jewish Race/Religion.”
He said he took “full responsibility and accountability for my actions,” adding: “To all the families and Jewish communities who were hurt and affected by my post, I am very sorry to have caused you pain, and I apologize.” He said he “initially reacted from emotion to being unfairly labeled as Anti-Semitic, instead of focusing on the healing process of my Jewish Brothers who were injured from the insults made in the Documentary.”
Irving has a history of controversy. He has been open about his refusal to receive the coronavirus vaccine and about New York City’s vaccine mandate. Tiff caused the Nets to dump Irving for more than two months last season. Irving said at the time that it was “not about politics here” but “about my life and what I chose to do.”
The Nets, consumed by Irving’s controversial behavior and mired in a slow start to the season, recently parted ways with coach Steve Nash.
Irving’s suspension by the Nets and falling out with Nike comes after Adidas cut ties with Ye, the artist formerly known as Kanye West, after he repeatedly made antisemitic comments on social media. Experts have warned of growing antisemitism at a time when incidents of harassment, vandalism and violence directed at Jews are at their highest level in decades.
Ben Golliver contributed to this report.