Nike's Phil Knight suggests company's relationship with Kyrie Irving is over: 'I would doubt we go back'

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Nike co-founder Phil Knight said Thursday the company’s partnership with Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving is likely over in the wake of the player’s antisemitism controversy.

Knight appeared on CNBC and made the remarks. Nike made the decision last Friday to suspend its ties with Irving and canceled plans to release the point guard’s signature shoe. Irving tweeted a link to a film that promoted antisemitic disinformation and was later suspended for at least five games.

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Nike co-founder Phil Knight accepts an award during the game between the Florida Gators and the Duke Blue Devils during the PK80-Phil Knight Invitational presented by State Farm at the Moda Center on Nov. 26, 2017, in Portland, Oregon. (Steve Dykes/Getty Images / Getty Images)

"I would doubt that we go back," Knight said on the program. "But I don't know for sure."

The Nets said Irving’s lack of an adequate apology was the reason for the suspension. He reportedly needs to meet a handful of benchmarks before being allowed to return to the team.

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"Kyrie stepped over the line," Knight said. "It's kind of that simple. He made some statements that we just can't abide by and that's why we ended the relationship. And I was fine with that."

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The sneakers of Kyrie Irving of the Brooklyn Nets are seen during the game against the Chicago Bulls at Barclays Center on Jan. 31, 2020, in New York City. (Mike Stobe/Getty Images / Getty Images)

Irving initially defended his right to post what he wanted on social media and wasn’t suspended until about a week later once the scrutiny on the Nets got hotter. In the midst of that, the team parted ways with Steve Nash and were rumored to be set on hiring suspended coach Ime Udoka from the Boston Celtics before ultimately choosing Jacques Vaughn.

"We look at who we sign and how much we pay and we look not only at how good the athlete is but what his or her character are," Knight added. "It's not an exact science, but it's a process that we go through with a lot of intensity and with a lot of people sticking their hand in it."

Kyrie Irving of the Brooklyn Nets brings the ball up the court against the Chicago Bulls at Barclays Center on Nov. 1, 2022, in New York City. (Dustin Satloff/Getty Images / Getty Images)

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Irving signed with Nike in 2011 and has had a signature line with the shoe giant since 2014. His annual endorsement deal is said to be worth around $11 million.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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