Nike has severed all ties with Kyrie Irving a month after the apparel company suspended its partnership with the Brooklyn Nets point guard amid controversy, a spokesperson told The Athletic's Shams Charania.
The news came roughly an hour before Charania reported that Memphis Grizzlies point guard Ja Morant is the likely successor to Irving at Nike and "in line to receive a new signature shoe at Nike in the near future."
Irving platformed a film full of antisemitic tropes on Twitter in early November. His initial refusal to apologize or condemn the film's contents earned him suspensions from the Nets and Nike. The apparel company also canceled its launch of Irving's next signature shoe, the Kyrie 8, from one of its most popular sneaker lines.
"At Nike, we believe there is no place for hate speech and we condemn any form of antisemitism," a statement from Nike said when the brand halted its relationship with Irving last month. "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."
Days later, Nike co-founder Phil Knight told CNBC his company's relationship with Irving was likely over.
"I would doubt that we go back," he said. "But I don’t know for sure."
Knight added in his CNBC interview, "Kyrie stepped over the line. It’s kind of that simple. He made some statements that we just can’t abide by and that’s why we ended the relationship. And I was fine with that."
Irving represented Nike from the moment he entered the NBA as the No. 1 overall draft pick in 2011. His first signature shoe launched in 2014, and he reportedly made a minimum of $11 million annually from Nike.
Irving's relationship with Nike was fraught before his recent controversy. When images of the Kyrie 8 leaked online in July 2021, he told supporters on Instagram he had "nothing to do with the design or marketing of the upcoming #Kyrie8," calling the shoe "trash" and suggesting, "Nike plans to release it without my okay."
Irving's contract with Nike was previously scheduled to end after this season. ESPN reported this past May that the sponsorship deal was unlikely to be renewed, even before Irving's latest bout with controversy.
Irving's suspension from the Nets lasted eight games. During that time, he was asked by the team to complete a list of requirements, including issuing a public apology and meeting with local Jewish leaders.
Irving lost more than $15 million last season for refusing to meet New York City's COVID-19 vaccine mandate. His refusal to get vaccinated also stalled discussions on a four-year contract extension worth an estimated $185 million during the 2021 offseason. His short-lived refusal to condemn antisemitism cost him another $2 million in game checks this year and tens of millions of dollars more in lost revenue from Nike.
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