Brooklyn Nets player Kyrie Irving has been under fire for over a week for posting a link to a documentary many describe as antisemitic. After being suspended on Thursday, Nov. 3, Irving apologized. That didn’t stop Nike from severing its relationship with Irving and canceling the latest release of his signature shoe.
“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,” Nike said in a statement. “We are deeply saddened and disappointed by the situation and its impact on everyone.”
Some Black Americans say Irving didn’t owe anyone an apology for standing on his views and are calling for a boycott of the Nets, NBA and Nike for what they believe is unjust censorship.
“I was a @BrooklynNets fan. I’ve been a fan of the @NBA my entire life. But until the Net and the NBA issue a public apology for the censuring, erasure and silencing of @KyrieIrving I will no longer watch and will be canceling my league pas,” @TonyBlount wrote in a Twitter thread.
“Black (American Freedmen especially) men have a right to have a voice. And Have a right to dissent with the status quo. What you are seeing in real time is the truth in Kanye’s statement that Jewish Americans control media,” Blunt continued.
“Boycott the NBA cause now they tryna make examples to keep Brothers from speaking,” @DaGodGotSwagga4$ale tweeted. “Y’all are more than basketball players/ entertainers man. Y’all hold the power not the league. Y’all don’t play nobody eats! Remember that!! Suspended for speaking his mind!”
“So how many people willing to boycott the NBA behind this?? I’m just asking a question because y’all know this is wrong,” @allgasnobrake83 tweeted along with a link to news of Irving’s suspension.
“Black NFL players and Black NBA players should boycott the lead and start your own immediately. It is past time to be independent. We stand with Kyrieirving . nothing our brother said was anti-Semitic,” @kinglioncrown wrote.
“Black people Y’all wanna boycott the nba?? Don’t watch it until they start treating kyrie like a human We got that power,” @MUSICANDBUILDS tweeted.
“Can black people ban together and boycott the NBA? I know I’m done with this racist organization,” @plutosaplanet22 wrote.
“This bullying is truly disturbing and should be concerning for every citizen of the US. Time to boycott the Nets and NBA,” @nealgrason tweeted.
“These bought-and-paid-for-Negroes shut down the NBA over Jacob Blake, an armed career criminal, sexual-assaulter. If they do nothing to support Kyrie, I have zero respect for any of them. Zero,” Jason Whitlock said in a tweet.
“If only the black community could cancel @Nike like they tried to cancel @KyrieIrving #boycottNike,” @Levelupwithlo tweeted.
“And the black community should suspend spending any money on @Nike products,” @SlimJim2123 tweeted.
South Carolina Congressional candidate Gregg’ Marcel’ Dixon tweeted, “#BoyCottNike.”
“I meant what I said family. Let’s get super serious about #BoycottTheNBA and #BoycottNIKE the outrage is nothing without us pulling away our resources from these anti black businesses/ organizations,” @Goodmoralll wrote.
Some think a boycott of the NBA is unlikely to succeed, particularly as current and former NBA players have deemed Irving’s actions harmful. They include LA Lakers LeBron James and Washington Wizards Deni Avdija, the NBA’s lone Jewish player.
“Me personally, I don’t condone any hate of any kind to any race: to Jewish communities, to Black communities, to Asian communities, you guys know where I stand. … I believe what Kyrie did caused some harm to a lot of people,” James said.
“He has since apologized and I think it’s unfortunate,” James continued. “I don’t stand on the position to harm people when it comes to your voice or your platform or anything; so it doesn’t matter what color your skin is, how tall you are, what position you are in, if you are promoting or soliciting or saying harmful things to any community that harm people, then I don’t respect it, I don’t condone it.”
James made the comments after being asked why many current NBA players haven’t spoken up about Irving during a post-game press conference after the Lakers lost to the Utah Jazz on Friday, Nov. 4.
When asked his opinion, Avdija said he thought of Irving as “a role model” and “great player” who made a “mistake, but he needs to understand that he gives examples to people, and people look up to him.”
“You can think whatever you want, you can do whatever you want, but I don’t think it’s right to go out in public and publish it and let little kids that follow you see it and the generations that come after to think like that because it’s not true,” Avdija continued. “And I don’t think it’s fair. Hopefully, he’s sorry for what he said.”
Retired NBA players Shaquille O’Neal, Charles Barkley and Kareem Abdul Jabbar were also among the voices condemning Irving’s actions.
“It hurts me sometimes when we have to sit up here to talk about stuff that divides the game. Now we got to answer for what this idiot has done,” O’Neal said.
“I think he should have been suspended. I think Adam [Silver] should have suspended him,” Barkley said, referring to Irving the NBA Commissioner. “First of all, Adam is Jewish. You can’t take my $40 million and insult my religion.”
“There’s little hope that he will change because he’s insulated by fame and money and surrounded by yes-people,” Jabbar said. “There is no motivation to learn how to distinguish propaganda from facts. All that’s left is for the world to decide how it should respond to him.”
Ye, the artist formerly known as Kanye West, also lost many of his business deals and his billionaire status after making comments people also deemed antisemitic. He supported Kyrie Irving in social media posts on Twitter.
“They make us bully ourselves because of our business alignments,” Ye said, along with a link to Shaq’s comments about Irving.
PHOTO: Brooklyn Nets’ Kyrie Irving speaks before the team’s NBA basketball game against the New Orleans Pelicans, Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2022, in New York. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver wants an apology and Kyrie Irving still isn’t going to give one. Shortly after the NBA Commissioner said Irving “made a reckless decision” by tweeting out a link to a film containing antisemitic material last week, the Brooklyn Nets guard again stopped short of saying he was sorry for doing so. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II, File)