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  • Writer's pictureAlejandro Echeverria

Kyrie Irving's latest controversy leaves his NBA future in doubt

By: Alejandro Echeverria

Nov. 22, 2022

Photo Credit: Associated Press

Kyrie Irving, a seven-time NBA All-Star and one of the game's most gifted players, has found himself in yet another controversy. The Brooklyn Nets’ star point guard is facing financial consequences as well as widespread backlash from the public after he used his platform to promote antisemitism.

Irving’s original offense included posting a link to "Hebrews to Negroes: Wake Up Black America", a film which has antisemitic material within it. This caused an outcry across the globe. However, before we go into the consequences Irving has faced, it is important to contextualize the situation to fully understand the impact of sharing this at the time.

Over the course of this past month, musician and pop culture icon Ye West went on various shows and platforms to speak his mind. In many of these instances, West made various antisemitic comments, which have since resulted in him losing an estimated $2 billion from companies he had endorsements and partnerships with, as they have terminated their relationships with him. These losses included the termination of West’s deals with Adidas, the GAP, and Balenciaga. His agency, CAA, also decided to drop him, and his products were taken off shelves at TJ Maxx and Foot Locker. Additionally, music streamer Apple Music pulled his music from their Essentials playlist, and West was denounced by people and brands all over the world.

Having recently launched his own sports agency, Donda Sports, West had been able to secure two superstars, Aaron Donald and Jaylen Brown, to the team. Following his comments, both players were forced to drop their affiliation with the company. Furthermore, West had launched Donda Academy, a school with a large focus on their basketball program. Recently though, all members of the team decided to leave the school, and the program’s basketball season was canceled, hurting another one of West’s business ventures.

As a result, when Kyrie Irving posted a link to a film with antisemitic content in it around the same time, he was quickly condemned for his actions. In the days following this incident, Kyrie was asked over and over by the media as to the reasoning behind posting the film. He refused to apologize for his actions, choosing instead to deflect these questions with various responses ranging from aloof emotional disengagement to angry retaliation. Furthermore, Irving refused to have open communication with Nets leadership. Having been involved in other controversies before, not apologizing to the Jewish community when given the chance was the tipping point, so the Brooklyn Nets were left with no choice other than to punish their star player. Kyrie Irving was suspended without pay by the Nets for at least five games, and was given a list of tasks he must complete before he is reintegrated into the team. These tasks are the following:

  1. Apologizing for his social media posts.

  2. Meeting with NBA Commissioner Adam Silver and local Jewish leaders.

  3. Meeting with Nets owner Joe Tsai.

  4. Making a $500,000 donation to an anti-hate cause.

  5. Undergoing training to understand anti-Semitism.

Having already issued an apology across his social media accounts, Irving is still on the road to redemption in order to play once more. As of Nov. 20, it has been reported by Sports Illustrated that Irving will be back on the court after completing the tasks the Nets gave him. Some, however, are still speculative, and believe that this was the last straw for Irving. Many analysts have suggested that there is a possibility Irving may never play in the NBA again (due to the tremendous baggage and negative media coverage he brings to any team he plays for).

However, the Nets organization was not the only group associated with Irving which took stern action.

Nike, who has sponsored Irving for the past 11 years, decided to suspend their sponsorship of Irving, and have canceled the release of the “Kyrie 8” signature shoe. Given the similarities between Nike and Adidas in respect to how they chose to respond to the antisemitic comments from Irving and West, it is evident that these elite brands are not afraid to drop their sponsorships because of it. It will be interesting to see the future consequences of these superstars’ controversial actions in terms of their personal brand image, ability to work with brands, future marketability, and overall bottom line.


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