Jaylen Brown attacks Nike after co-founder says he’ll likely cut ties with Kyrie Irving


Celtics

“Since when does Nike care about ethics?”

Jaylen Brown defended Kyrie Irving on Thursday. John Tlumacki/Globe Staff

When Nike co-founder Phil Knight revealed the company would likely end its relationship with Nets guard Kyrie Irving, one of his former Celtics teammates appeared to come to his defense.

Jaylen Brown slammed Nike on Twitter shortly after Knight’s statement.

“Since when does Nike care about ethics?” Brown tweeted.

Nike has been criticized for several years for its alleged use of sweatshops and forced labor in Asia to manufacture its products. However, Brown, who has been a sneaker free agent since the start of the 2021-22 season, has worn Nike basketball sneakers during his games with the Celtics in recent years. After being signed to Adidas for the first five seasons of his career, Brown wore Nike-produced Kobe Bryant sneakers consistently until the start of the 2022-23 season.

Brown’s tweet came days after he said The Boston Globes Gary Washburn that while he and the NBPA “do not tolerate hate speech” and “anything of that nature”, he thinks Irving’s minimum five-game suspension and return stipulations are too strict.

“I don’t believe Kyrie Irving is anti-Semitic,” Brown told Washburn. “I don’t think the members of our governing bodies think he’s anti-Semitic. He made a mistake. We understand from an outside perspective how important sensitivity is to not condoning hate speech and do not tolerate anything of that nature. It’s the dialect sensitivity around it. We don’t want to defend anyone for not condemning hate speech, but I don’t believe Kyrie Irving is anti-Semitic. And I hope the NBA feels the same.

“He made a mistake. He posted something,” Brown added. “There was no distinction. Maybe we can move forward, but the conditions he has to meet to come back , I don’t think just speaking for myself, speaking as a vice-president of a lot of our players, we didn’t agree with the conditions that were required for him to come back and we are waiting for this meeting on Tuesday to see what happens. But we’ll take it from there. That’s all I’ll say.

Irving received the suspension from the Nets on Nov. 3, a week after posting a link to an anti-Semitic movie on his Twitter page and failing to speak out against anti-Semitism in the days that followed. Irving posted a formal apology for his actions on Instagram hours after the Nets suspended him. But a day later, Nike announced that it was suspending its relationship with Irving.

“At Nike, we believe there is no place for hate speech and we condemn all forms of anti-Semitism,” Nike said in a statement. “To that end, we have made the decision to suspend our relationship with Kyrie Irving with immediate effect and to no longer launch the Kyrie 8. We are deeply saddened and disappointed by the situation and its impact on everyone.”

Knight hinted in an interview with CNBC on Thursday that the company would be ending its relationship with Irving.

“Kyrie crossed the line,” he said. “It’s a bit as simple as that. He made statements that we just can’t stand by and that’s why we ended the relationship. And I was okay with that.

“I would doubt we would go back,” Knight added. “But I am not sure.”

Irving met with NBA Commissioner Adam Silver on Tuesday. Silver, who is Jewish, said The New York Times that he doesn’t believe Irving is anti-Semitic after meeting him.

Irving and his family also met with Nets owner Joe Tsai on Thursday.

“We’ve spent some quality time understanding each other and it’s clear to me that Kyrie has no belief in hating Jewish people or any other group,” Tsai tweeted.

“The Nets and Kyrie, together with the NBA and NBPA, are working constructively toward a process of forgiveness, healing and education.”



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