Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving taped his shoes and wrote a message for the team’s game Wednesday night against the Charlotte Hornets.
Irving covered up the Nike logo after he and the sportswear giant parted ways over controversy stemming from his decision to tweet a link to a film spreading anti-Semitic disinformation. The tweet led to a suspension by the Nets and he did not return to the court until certain benchmarks were met.
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“I AM FREE Thank God… I AM” was written on one side of Irving’s shoe while the other side read, “logo here.”
A Nike spokesperson confirmed to Fox Business on Monday that Irving was “no longer a Nike athlete.”
Nike suspended his relationship with Irving last month and halted the release of the Kyrie 8. Irving’s sneakers were reportedly among Nike’s top five best-sellers. It’s unclear if the controversy surrounding the Brooklyn superstar would deter another company from signing him.
Irving was suspended for at least five game days after the firestorm over the tweet. He returned on Nov. 20 against the Memphis Grizzlies and admitted an apology should have come sooner.
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“I don’t stand for anything resembling hate speech, anti-Semitism or anything that is anti-human,” Irving said. via ESPN. “I feel like we should all have a chance to speak for ourselves when things are made about us. And I feel like it was necessary for me to stand in this place and take responsibility for my actions because there was a way that I should have handled everything.” this.”
Irving initially didn’t have the right answer to the issue in the eyes of the Nets, as he didn’t publicly apologize the first time he got the chance with the media. However, after going through the six-step program the Nets gave him before he could return, he knows he should have done things differently.
“It should have been the first day that I was dealing with this whole thing of being there for all those who felt that this was anti-Semitic,” Irving said. “And I should have made it clear that I’m not an anti-Semite, and I’m not against anything when it comes to the way I live my life. So the learning lesson for me was just the power of my platform and the impact it can cause. if it’s not addressed in the right way. So meeting with different people within the Jewish community has given me some clarity about a deeper understanding of what’s going on and the impact that’s been made and the damage that’s been done.” .
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NBA commissioner Adam Silver and Nets team owner Joe Tsai insisted that Irving was not anti-Semitic before his return.