Nets suspend Kyrie Irving for refusing to disavow anti-Semitic beliefs

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After a week-long saga that saw interventions from the Anti-Defamation League and NBA commissioner Adam Silver, the Brooklyn Nets suspended Kyrie Irving for at least five games without pay on Thursday, deeming the star guard “currently unfit. to be associated”. with the organization following his repeated refusals to apologize for a social media post about an anti-Semitic film and book.

Irving, who on Wednesday agreed to donate $500,000 to support anti-hate causes in partnership with the ADL, said he “took responsibility” for the post but did not apologize when asked. he met with reporters on Thursday afternoon.

“Over the past few days, we have made several attempts to work with Kyrie Irving to help him understand the evil and danger of his words and actions, which began with the release of a film containing a deeply disturbing anti-Semitic hatred,” said the Nets said in a statement. “We believed that taking the path of education in this difficult situation would be the right one and felt that we had made progress in our common commitment to eradicating hatred and intolerance.

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“We were appalled today, when given the opportunity in a media briefing, that Kyrie refused to state unequivocally that he held no anti-Semitic beliefs, nor to acknowledge specific hateful elements in the film. It was not the first time he had the opportunity – but failed – to clarify.

The Nets concluded that Irving’s refusal to “disavow anti-Semitism when clearly given the opportunity” was “deeply troubling” and constituted “conduct detrimental to the team.”

In a message posted to Instagram late Thursday evening, Irving finally relented and apologized “to all Jewish families and communities who are hurt and affected by my message,” acknowledging that he had linked to a film that “contained false anti-Semitic statements, stories and false and offensive language.

Irving continued, “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 want to clear up any confusion about my position in the fight against antisemitism by apologizing for posting the documentary without context and a factual explanation outlining the specific beliefs in the documentary with which I agreed.

After news of Irving’s suspension first broke, ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt said the nonprofit would not accept Irving’s $500,000 pledge. , which was to be matched by the Nets.

“We were optimistic but after seeing the debacle at a press conference, it’s clear that Kyrie doesn’t feel responsible for his actions,” Greenblatt wrote on Twitter. “ADL cannot in good conscience accept his donation.”

Irving linked the film “Hebrews to Negroes: Wake Up Black America” ​​in a social media post last Thursday. Asked by reporters on Saturday about the film’s content and an earlier social media post about Alex Jones’ ‘New World Order’ conspiracy theory, Irving denied he was anti-Semitic but refused to apologize , arguing that “the story is not meant to be hidden from anyone. “During the heated exchange, he said he had done nothing illegal or harmed anyone. Irving added that the “New World Order” conspiracy theory was “true”.

Over the past week, the NBA, the National Basketball Players Association, the Nets and team owner Joe Tsai have released statements opposing anti-Semitism. Irving eventually deleted the post without any public comment, and a group of eight fans sat courtside during the Nets’ win over the Indiana Pacers on Monday, wearing t-shirts that read “Fight the ‘anti-Semitism’.

In a joint statement with the Nets and ADL on Wednesday, Irving said he was “aware of the negative impact of my post on the Jewish community” and “means no harm.”

But Silver felt that wasn’t enough of an answer for Irving’s “reckless decision” to tie into the movie. The commissioner said in a statement Thursday that he was “disappointed” that Irving had not issued an “unreserved apology” or “exposed the despicable and damaging content contained in the film.”

When Irving had another chance to clarify his position on Thursday afternoon, he again refused to apologize.

“Where were you when I was a kid to figure out that 300 million of my ancestors are buried in America? Where were you guys asking those same questions when I was a kid and faced the learning about traumatic events in my family history and where I’m proud to come from and why I’m proud to be here? ‘another race and a group of people,” Irving said. “I’m just proud of my heritage and what we’ve been through. The fact that it pinned me against the Jewish community, and I’m here answering questions about whether or not i’m sorry for something i didn’t create it’s something i shared and i tell everyone i take responsibility – c is where I sit.

In order for Irving to return to court, the Nets said he must satisfy a “series of objective remedies that address the adverse impact of his conduct.” Brooklyn banned Irving for more than two months last season over his refusal to get vaccinated, then reversed course and allowed him to return part-time in January.

Irving will miss Brooklyn’s visit to the Washington Wizards on Friday and will be sidelined until at least Nov. 12. The earliest he could return is a Nov. 13 game against the Lakers in Los Angeles.

The 30-year-old, who is averaging 26.9 points, 5.1 rebounds and 5.1 assists, is earning $36.9 million this season in the final year of his contract. According to NBA rules, this suspension will cost Irving at least $1.25 million in salary.

Consumed by Irving’s controversial behavior and mired in a slow start, the Nets parted ways with coach Steve Nash on Tuesday. Brooklyn, which is 2-6, explored replacing Nash with Boston Celtics’ Ime Udoka, who is serving a one-season suspension for having an inappropriate relationship with an employee.

After Brooklyn parted ways with Nash, Irving appeared disengaged in a 108-99 loss to the Chicago Bulls on Tuesday, shooting 2 of 12 from the field and finishing with four points, the fewest in his four-year tenure with the Nets.

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