Kyrie Irving will miss the first of several Brooklyn Nets games on Friday after being suspended for comment regarding his tweet linked to an anti-Semitic documentary.
The Nets suspended Irving on Thursday after initially doubling down on his decision to share the content on his Twitter account. The NBA star point guard issued an apology hours later on his verified Instagram account, in which he said he took full responsibility for his action.
“To all Jewish families and communities who are hurt and affected by my message, I am deeply sorry for causing you pain and I apologize,” Irving wrote. “I initially reacted out of emotion at being unfairly labeled an anti-Semite, instead of focusing on the healing process for my Jewish brothers and sisters who were hurt by the hate speech in the documentary.
“I had no intention of disrespecting Jewish cultural history regarding the Holocaust or perpetuating hatred. I’m learning from this unfortunate event and hopefully we can find understanding between all of us,” Irving continued.
The backlash against Irving intensified after he defended his decision to share a link to the 2018 film “Hebrews to Negroes: Wake Up Black America” last week. The film, based on the book of the same name by Ronald Dalton, has been criticized by civil rights groups for its anti-Semitism.
Reporters asked Irving earlier Thursday – before he issued his apology – if he held anti-Semitic beliefs or if he was sorry. At the time, he responded by saying he respects “all walks of life” and meant no harm.
The Nets later said they were “appalled” when the player “refused to state unequivocally that he held no anti-Semitic beliefs, nor to acknowledge specific hateful elements in the film”, during a media session.
“Such a failure to disavow anti-Semitism when given a clear opportunity to do so is deeply troubling, goes against the values of our organization and constitutes conduct detrimental to the team,” the Nets said in a statement. their statement before Irving apologized.
The team also said they have repeatedly tried to help Irving “understand the evil and danger of his words and actions.”
Irving’s unpaid suspension means he won’t play Friday’s game against the Washington Wizards. The suspension will last for at least four additional games, and Irving is also required to satisfy “a series of objective remedies that address the adverse impact of his conduct,” the Nets said.
Irving’s remarks during the media briefing with reporters on Thursday deepened the controversy.
When asked if he was apologizing, he replied, “I meant no harm. I didn’t make the documentary.
Asked if he was surprised by the reaction, Irving said: “I take full responsibility, again, I repeat, for posting something on my Instagram or Twitter that may have contained lies. unhappy,” Irving replied.
When asked if he had any anti-Semitic beliefs, Irving replied, “I respect all walks of life. I embrace all walks of life. This is where I sit.
Pressed further for a yes or no answer to a question about whether Irving held anti-Semitic beliefs, he replied, “I can’t be an anti-Semite if I know where I’m from.
When Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, heard how the NBA star answered that question, he pointed out that Irving had “a lot of work to do.”
“The answer to the question ‘Do you have anti-Semitic beliefs’ is always an unequivocal ‘NO’. We took @KyrieIrving at his word when he said he was taking responsibility, but today he broke his promise,” Greenblatt wrote.
After Irving was suspended Thursday, the ADL refused to accept a $500,000 donation that Irving and the Nets had previously announced. The ADL’s decision to refuse the donation was made before Irving apologized Thursday night.
The star’s comments also drew rebuke from NBA commissioner Adam Silver, who said he was “disappointed” with Irving.
“Kyrie Irving has made the reckless decision to post a link to a film containing deeply offensive anti-Semitic material,” Silver said in a statement before Irving apologized.
The controversy comes as anti-Semitism has risen in the United States in recent years. At least 2,717 anti-Semitic incidents were reported in the United States in 2021, an increase from 942 such incidents in 2015, according to the ADL.
Irving has encountered controversy in recent years that has affected his playing time. Last season, Irving did not play in many Brooklyn home games because he was not vaccinated against Covid-19, which was a hurdle to play in indoor arenas due to a New York workplace vaccination mandate. The rule was later lifted and he returned to Barclays Center in March.