It was reported Thursday night that Brooklyn Nets star guard Kyrie Irving will be suspended five games without pay after a media session held Thursday, in which Irving refused to apologize for his since-deleted antisemitic tweet of the 2018 “Hebrews to Negroes: Wake Up Black America” film on Amazon.
Many media pundits and people around the world are condemning the NBA and its Jewish commissioner Adam Silver for not punishing Irving for his recent harmful comments toward the Jewish community. In a statement today, Silver made his feelings known regarding the Irving situation:
“Kyrie Irving made a reckless decision to post a link to a film containing deeply offensive antisemitic material," Silver said in his statement. "While we appreciate the fact that he agreed to work with the Brooklyn Nets and the Anti-Defamation League to combat antisemitism and other forms of discrimination, I am disappointed that he has not offered an unqualified apology and more specifically denounced the vile and harmful content contained in the film he chose to publicize. I will be meeting with Kyrie in person in the next week to discuss this situation.”
Silver even stated he would like to meet with Irving next week regarding the matter and to educate Irving on how impactful his actions are according to CBS Sports (https://www.cbssports.com/nba/news/adam-silver-disappointed-in-kyrie-irvings-non-apology-adl-says-irving-has-a-lot-of-work-to-do/).
The film included material from former German ruler and manslaughterer Adolf Hitler, “The Hidden Tyranny” and “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion”. Even Nets owner Joe Tsai issued a statement regarding Irving’s antisemitic post:
"I’m disappointed that Kyrie appears to support a film based on a book full of anti-semitic disinformation," Tsai wrote. "I want to sit down and make sure he understands this is hurtful to all of us, and as a man of faith, it is wrong to promote hate based on race, ethnicity, or religion."
Irving refused to apologize when given the chance after practice on Thursday stating that he meant no harm or danger in any way to anyone, stating that some of the things in "Hebrews to Negroes: Wake Up Black America" were untrue, but denied that he shouldn't have posted a link to it to the film.
Irving also never confirmed that he did not have antisemitic beliefs and stated "I cannot be antisemitic if I know where I come from," Irving said. The Nets organization and Irving himself have each separately donated $500,000 to the ADL (Anti-Defamation League) (https://apnews.com/article/brooklyn-nets-nba-sports-race-and-ethnicity-f88c6abbed49931ac9d1c8defefce13d) and will work with them to combat all forms of bigotry and antisemitism, which reached an all-time high in 2021 with 2,717 incidents, which was a 34% increase from 2020 according to VOA News (https://www.voanews.com/a/antisemitic-incidents-set-all-time-high-in-us-in-2021-/6545852.html).
Irving declined to speak to the media Monday and Tuesday after the Nets games against the Bulls and Pacers, and since his deleted antisemitic tweet and controversial press conference with NBA/Nets reporter Nick Friedell, in which Friedell tried to ask Irving regarding the matter and he was completely dismissive of it and ended up leaving the podium.
The Brooklyn Nets issued a statement earlier today:
Irving has a long way to go to regain the trust and respect of those in the Nets organization, media members, and the Jewish community as a whole. He was a big reason why Steve Nash was recently fired on Tuesday after a rollercoaster two-plus years with the organization, in which there was no stability or ramifications for players' actions such as Irving's. Whether it was injuries, taking a two-week sabbatical in 2020-21 that was a no-call, no-show in January of 2021 that raised major red flags, to refusing to receive the COVID-19 vaccination to be able to play in home games last season, which cost the Nets a lower seed and caused them to get swept in the first round by the Boston Celtics.
To now promoting an antisemitic Amazon film. Geez … Nash has to be relieved he doesn’t have to deal with such a headache regarding the Nets; from Irving and his off-court antics to Kevin Durant’s moodiness and requesting Nash to get fired, to Ben Simmons, who seems disinterested in basketball and seems like his confidence is shot.
The Nets are currently 2-6 and will be on a current road trip against teams such as Charlotte, Dallas, and Washington, a home game against their borough rival the Knicks, and another road game against the Clippers.
There are a lot more questions than answers regarding the Nets as their three stars are controversial, polarizing figures and frisky with the media, but none more than Irving, who took the first step in trying to restore his image by issuing an apology on his Instagram page that read:
"While doing research on YHWH, I posted a Documentary that contained some false anti-Semitic statements, narratives, and language that were untrue and offensive to the Jewish Race/Religion, and I take full accountability and responsibility for my actions. I am grateful to have a big platform to share knowledge and I want to move forward by having an open dialogue to learn more and grow from this.
To All Jewish families and Communities that are hurt and affected from my post, I am deeply sorry to have caused you pain, and I apologize. I initially reacted out of emotion to being unjustly labeled Anti-Semitic, instead of focusing on the healing process of my Jewish Brothers and Sisters that were hurt from the hateful remarks made in the Documentary. I want to clarify any confusion on where I stand fighting against Anti-Semitism by apologizing for posting the documentary without context and a factual explanation outlining the specific beliefs in the Documentary I agreed with and disagreed with. I had no intentions to disrespect any Jewish cultural history regarding the Holocaust or perpetuate any hate. I am learning from this unfortunate event and hope we can find understanding between us all. I am no different than any other human being. I am a seeker of truth and knowledge, and I know who I Am."
This is the first step in what will be a long process for Irving to get to the court as even Joe Tsai said “he was done” referring to Irving’s antics and general manager Sean Marks even stating Irving is “unfit” to be a member of the Nets currently.