NEW YORK — The Brooklyn Nets suspended Kyrie Irving for at least five games with no pay on Thursday. They were shocked at his inability to “unequivocally say he has no antisemitic beliefs,” and Irving later apologizing for a post on social media the week before about the film and book which feature antisemitic stereotypes.
Irving has refused to apologize in an after-practice media meeting earlier Thursday. The Nets later stated that Irving was “currently unfit to be associated with the Brooklyn Nets.”
“We were dismayed today, when given an opportunity in a media session, that Kyrie refused to unequivocally say he has no antisemitic beliefs, nor acknowledge specific hateful material in the film. This was not the first time he had the opportunity — but failed — to clarify,” the Nets stated in an announcement.
“Such failure to disavow antisemitism when given a clear opportunity to do so is deeply disturbing, is against the values of our organization, and constitutes conduct detrimental to the team. Accordingly, we are of the view that he is currently unfit to be associated with the Brooklyn Nets.”
After four hours, following the time that Nets announced Irving’s suspending him, Irving issued an apology and apologia, something that many included NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, had wanted sooner.
In the Instagram account, Irving wrote: “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- semticism 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.”
Irving added that the film “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 responsibly for my actions.”
The Nets announced in the announcement of Irving’s suspension, that they had made several attempts to assist Irving to understand the consequences and risk of his actions and words however it was evident in Irving’s interview following practice on Thursday that nothing was changed.
Irving was adamant about not apologizing and claimed that he didn’t intend to hurt anyone. Irving claimed that certain statements contained in “Hebrews to Negroes: Wake Up Black America” were not true, but he didn’t suggest that he shouldn’t have put up the link.
“I’m not the one who made the documentary,” Irving declared.
Later, he was asked if there were antisemitic views but he did not say that he did.
“I cannot be antisemitic if I know where I come from,” Irving declared.
Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt responded to a clip of Irving’s answer to that query in Twitter in a tweet: “The answer to the question “Do you have any antisemitic convictions” will always be “NO” without hesitation.
“We took @KyrieIrving at his word when he said he took responsibility, but today he did not make good on that promise,” Greenblatt continued. “Kyrie clearly has a lot of work to do.”
A few days earlier, Irving and the Nets had announced, along with the ADL the two teams will donate $500,000 to causes that fight hate.
Following the time that when the Nets declared Irving’s suspension Greenblatt posted on Twitter: “We were optimistic but after watching the debacle of a press conference, it’s clear that Kyrie feels no accountability for his actions. @ADL cannot in good conscience accept his donation.”
Silver has also demanded an accountability process from Irving earlier on Thursday.
“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,” the commissioner wrote in a statement that was released just minutes prior to Irving spoke.
Silver stated in his statement that he will meet the president and Irving in person over the next week.
This is the second time in a row in which the Nets have had to take Irving out of the team. In the past, it was after he refused get vaccinated against COVID-19 which rendered him ineligible for home games. The team eventually allowed him to play in road events in December. He was able to play fully in March after the city’s mandate to get vaccines for performers and athletes was removed.
Irving posted the link, which was later deleted, at the end of last week, but insistently supported his right to do it following the Nets lost at home to Indiana Pacers Indiana Pacers on Saturday. The team requested that he not talk to reporters following the two games played this week, in hopes to keep fans from being upset however, the absence did not alter Irving’s position.
He quickly became defensive on Thursday and asked reporters why they didn’t ask questions about the past of Black people in America He also said that the ancestors of 300 million’ graves are burial grounds in the United States.
“Where were you guys asking those same questions when I was a kid learning about the traumatic events of my familial history and what I’m proud to come from and proud to stand here,” Irving declared, “and why when I say that I’m not planning to leave, it’s nothing to do with denying any other race , group or people.
“I’m just proud of my heritage and what we’ve been through and the fact that this has pinned me against the Jewish community and I’m here answering questions of whether or not I’m sorry or not about something I didn’t create and was something I shared, and I’m telling everybody I’m taking responsibility, then that’s where I sit.”
Irving was also specifically questioned about his views regarding the Holocaust.
“Those falsehoods are unfortunate,” Irving declared about the film’s content. the film. “And it’s not that I don’t believe in the Holocaust. I never said that. Never, ever have said it. It’s not come out of my mouth. I never tweeted it. I never liked anything like it. So the Holocaust in itself is an event that means something to a large group of people that suffered something that could have been avoided.”
The Nets declared that Irving’s suspension will continue “until he satisfies a series of objective remedial measures that address the harmful impact of his conduct.”
Irving is expected to miss more than three home games against Washington, Charlotte and Dallas as well as a home game with New York and a second road game against the Clippers. It’s a tough time for the Nets are currently 1-6 and cost the coach Steve Nash his job Tuesday.
The team was unable to grant Irving the chance to extend his contract this summer , after he was absent for a large portion of the last season. Irving chose to play in an extension for the last year of his contract so it is possible that he is in his final season with the team.