“Kyrie Irving is no longer a (Nike) athlete.
The words are clear and show how much the equipment manufacturers are now looking at the athletes with whom they collaborate.
And the least we can say is that the case of Kyrie Irving posed a problem.
Nike announced Monday that it will no longer work with the NBA star, a month after the sports equipment manufacturer suspended its partnership with the Brooklyn Nets point guard for promoting an anti-Semitic film on its social networks.
On October 27, Irving - already known for relaying conspiracy theories - had published on his Instagram and Twitter accounts the poster of "Hebrews to Negroes: Wake Up Black America" and links to the Amazon site allowing you to rent or to buy this film containing, among other things, a quote attributed to Adolf Hitler and denying the reality of the Holocaust.
He later apologized, saying "not to be anti-Semitic and never have been".
"I have no hatred in my heart against Jews or anyone who identifies as Jewish," he added in an exclusive interview with SportsNet New York (SNY) on Nov. 19.
His Brooklyn Nets club had also sidelined him for at least five games, without receiving a salary.
Eight game suspension
The Nets asked the player to contact the Jewish community to better understand the scope of the messages he posted on social networks.
The former Boston Celtics player described these discussions as moving and important, claiming to have learned a lot.
"It was not easy, some (discussions) were painful (...) but it gave me a better perspective", explained the player.
He finally joined the team on November 20 after serving an eight-game suspension.
Kyrie Irving opened up about his split from Nike on Twitter stating, "Anyone who spent their hard-earned money on one of my products, I consider you family and we are forever bonded."
He also shared a “gif” which reads: “there is nothing more precious than being free”.
The 30-year-old Australian-born point guard was a seven-time All-Star, including winning an NBA title in 2016 with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Anyone who has even spent their hard earned money on anything I have ever released, I consider you FAMILY and we are forever connected.
it's time to show how powerful we are as a community.
— Hela (@KyrieIrving) December 5, 2022
The United States is experiencing a kind of trivialization of anti-Semitism.
“Rather than give it a platform, our politicians should publicly denounce anti-Semitism wherever it is found,” President Joe Biden tweeted on Friday.
I just want to make a few things clear:
The Holocaust happened.
Hitler was a demonic figure.
And instead of giving it a platform, our political leaders should be calling out and rejecting anti-Semitism wherever it hides.
Silence is complicity.
— President Biden (@POTUS) December 2, 2022
“The Holocaust did happen.
Hitler was an evil person,” he added the day after the outcry caused by rapper Kanye West, who confessed his admiration for Hitler and the Nazis during an interview with a conspiratorial American presenter.
"I love Hitler", launched several times the artist, who now calls himself Ye and who had dined in a small committee a few days earlier at Donald Trump's home in Florida with the former Republican president, in the presence of a white supremacist, Nick Fuentes, known for questioning the reality of the Holocaust.
Analysts say the remarks show that religious intolerance and conspiracy theories involving the Jewish community have become almost normal.
They are relayed in particular by Donald Trump's MAGA movement ("Make America great again", or make America great again) and the far-right conspiratorial nebula QAnon, but also by show business personalities like Kanye West.
And sports, therefore.