NBA superstar LeBron James said on Thursday that Brooklyn guard Kyrie Irving should be allowed back on the court after the anti-semitism furore that saw the Nets suspend him.
Fallout for Irving continues two weeks after he posted a social media link to a film widely denounced as anti-semitic, with Nike co-founder Phil Knight saying in an interview with CNBC on Thursday that the apparel giant’s relationship with Irving is likely severed for good.
“I would doubt that we go back,” Knight told CNBC in an interview that aired on Thursday. “But I don’t know for sure.”
Nike last seek announced it was “suspending” its relationship with Kyrie, cancelling the launch of the Kyrie 8 shoe that was to have become available this month. Nike’s move came in the wake of the Nets’ suspension of Irving for at least five games over his “failure to disavow anti-semitism” either on social media or in meetings with reporters.
‘Should be playing’
Hours after the suspension was issued, Irving did offer an apology on Instagram, and James indicated on Thursday that he believed that should be enough to see Irving reinstated.
The Nets have outlined a series of steps that Irving must take before they end his suspension, including sensitivity training and meetings with Jewish leaders and anti-hate groups. “I told you guys that I don’t believe in sharing hurtful information,” James tweeted. “And I’ll continue to be that way but Kyrie apologised and he should be able to play. That’s what I think.
“It’s that simple. Help him learn - but he should be playing. What he’s asked to do to get back on the floor I think is excessive,” James added. “He’s not the person that’s being portrayed of him.”
Boston Celtics star Jaylen Brown, who is vice-president of the National Basketball Players’ Association, said this week that the six steps outlined by the Nets for Irving’s reinstatement “seem like a lot” and told Boston Globe that some players had “expressed discomfort” with them.