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Nike suspends relationship with Nets' Irving amid anti-Semitism firestorm

Kyrie Irving continues to feel the fallout of an anti-semitism firestorm with Nike suspending its relationship with the Brooklyn Nets star and nixing the release of his new shoe. ©AFP

New York (AFP) - Nike suspended its relationship with Kyrie Irving on Friday amid the anti-Semitism firestorm sparked by the Brooklyn Nets star.

The move by the apparel giant comes a day after the Nets suspended Irving for at least five games citing Irving's "failure to disavow anti-Semitism" either on social media or in meetings with reporters.

Hours after the suspension was issued, Irving did offer an apology on Instagram, but Nike distanced itself from him on Friday anyway, saying it would not launch the Kyrie 8 shoe that was expected to become available this month.

"At Nike, we believe there is no place for hate speech and we condemn any form of anti-Semitism," the company said in a statement.

"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."

Irving has been under scrutiny since a social media post last week in which he offered a link to the film "Hebrews to Negroes: Wake up Black America" -- a 2018 film widely condemned for containing a range of anti-Semitic tropes.

Nets manager Sean Marks said Friday that Irving's suspension was the "best course of action" for the club.

"He refused to disavow that until his tweet last night," Marks said."I think this was the best course of action.As it stands now, he's just suspended."

But Marks said Irving's apology was just the start of his path back to the court.

"There are going to be some remedial steps and measures that are going to be put in place for him," Marks said.

He said Irving would have to seek counseling and speak with some anti-hate and Jewish leaders in the community.

"He's going to have to sit down with them, he's going to have to sit down with the organization after this and we'll evaluate and see if it's the right opportunity to bring him back."

Marks, the NBA's first player from New Zealand who was named the Nets' general manager in 2016, said he hopes to see change in Irving.

"I think after anything like this, you would always hope there's a change, a change in feelings, a change in attitude," Marks said.

Nets star forward Kevin Durant said he trusted the organization to make the correct decision in the matter.

"I ain't here to judge nobody or talk down on nobody for how they feel, their view or anything," Durant said."I just didn't like anything that went on.

"I feel like it was all unnecessary.I felt like we could have just kept playing basketball and kept quiet as an organization.I just don't like none of it."

Durant later tweeted a clarification to his comments making it clear his remarks should not be seen as condoning hate speech or anti-Semitism.

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