The corporate sponsors behind some of the NBA’s top-tier talent have some explaining to do. When trouble, or at minimum, the perception of it, comes to its paid athletic ambassadors, one decision must be made: fight or flee. The fight is usually in the vein of standing by fallen heroes when the media runs them through the wringer of morality.
Take the cases of Kyrie Irving and Ja Morant, a tale of two controversies. With Kyrie Irving, a cumulative effect of an anti-vax stance collided with his self-awakening for a polarizing perspective on already polarized topics.
Although many were perturbed that Kyrie opted not to get the vaccine, sacrificing play in NYC when he was a member of the Brooklyn Nets during the city’s early stance on mandatory vaccinations for indoor performances, it was his tweet of the documentary “From Hebrews to Negroes” that rang the alarm.
His signature endorsement agreement with Nike would have expired on Oct. 1, 2023, until it was abruptly ended 11 months before its expiration date after Irving posted a link on social media to the book and movie deemed anti-Semitic by many.
Team Irving called the subsequent split from Nike amicable.
“We have mutually decided to part ways and wish Nike the best in their future endeavors,” Irving’s agent, Shetellia Riley Irving, told CNBC last December.
Nike stated their position very differently.
“Kyrie stepped over the line. It’s kind of that simple,” Nike co-founder Phil Knight said to CNBC last year on Nov. 10. “He made some statements that we just can’t abide by, and that’s why we ended the relationship. I was fine with that.”
Nike canceled the planned release of the Nike Kyrie 8 and asked retailers to pull new merchandise from Irving’s line off the respective sales floors. However, capitalism trumps all, as in early February, Nike released a new colorway from the Nike Kyrie Low series with no fanfare. It showed that making money from the product without marketing the athlete that inspired it is acceptable for Nike’s business.
Get You A Sponsor That Looks At You Like Nike Looks At Ja
Enter Ja Morant, who has alleged involvement in physical altercations against a minor, and a security guard at the mall before his epic fail at Denver’s world-famous Shotgun Willie’s strip club. His actions are legitimately concerning, yet his sponsors are staying with him despite no day of return.
Nike is staying by his side.
“We appreciate Ja’s accountability and that he is taking the time to get the help he needs. We support his prioritization of his well-being,” Nike’s statement read via Shams Charania.
So sharing a documentary about one version of a culture’s origin story is more damaging to the Nike brand than brandishing a gun on social media from the interior of a strip club?
It is a reminder of an often-regurgitated conspiracy theory that the powers that be will support ignorant actions by Black people versus media material that may awaken that same population. No one wants Ja Morant to lose money, but the contradictory moves made by arguably the most popular athletic apparel brand on the planet are too apparent to be ignored.
More news from our partners:
‘Is This Confirmation or Naw’: Jennifer Hudson Wishes Common a Happy Birthday, Fans Say It’s a ‘Soft Launch’ of Their Budding Relationship (atlantablackstar.com)
‘I Don’t Understand’: Shaquille O’Neal Reportedly Hiding in His House to Avoid Being Served in FTX Scam Lawsuit (finurah.com)
Conflicting Reports On How Ja Morant Treats His Strippers: Dropped $50K Then Pulled Out Gun In Shotgun Willie’s – The Shadow League