Kyrie Irving will begin his suspension of at least 5 games on Friday due to the anti-Semitism controversy. The NBA star has since apologized
Kyrie Irving will miss the first of several Brooklyn Nets games on Friday after being suspended for the comments regarding his tweet linking to an anti-Semitic documentary.
The Nets suspended Irving on Thursday after he initially doubled about his decision to share content on his Twitter account. The NBA star point guard apologized a few hours later verified Instagram accountin which he said that he takes full responsibility for his actions.
“To all the Jewish families and communities who have been hurt and affected by my post, I am deeply sorry for the pain I have caused you and I apologize,” Irving wrote. “Initially, I reacted emotionally to being unfairly labeled an anti-Semite, instead of focusing on the healing process of my Jewish brothers and sisters who were hurt by the hateful remarks made in the Documentary.
“It was not my intention to disrespect any Jewish cultural history related to the Holocaust or to perpetuate any hatred. I am learning from this unfortunate event and I hope we can find understanding between all of us,” Irving continued.
The backlash against Irving after last week he defended his decision to share a link to the 2018 film “Black Hebrews: Black America Awakens.” The film, based on Ronald Dalton’s book of the same name, has been criticized by human rights groups for its anti-Semitism.
Earlier Thursday, reporters asked Irving — before announcing his apology — whether he held anti-Semitic beliefs or whether he was sorry. Then he replied that he respects “all spheres of life” and that he does not want to harm.
The Nets later said were “appalled” when the player “refused to state unequivocally that he has no anti-Semitic beliefs, nor to acknowledge the specific hate material in the film,” during a media session.
“Such a failure to renounce anti-Semitism when given a clear opportunity to do so is deeply troubling, contrary to the values of our organization, and constitutes conduct detrimental to the team,” the Nets said in a statement before Irving apologized.
The team also said they tried repeatedly to help Irving “understand the harm and danger of his words and actions.”
Irving’s suspension without pay means he will not play Friday against the Washington Wizards. The suspension will last at least four additional games, and Irving is also required to complete “a series of objective corrective measures that address the adverse impact of his conduct,” the Nets said.
Irving’s remarks during a media session with reporters on Thursday escalated the controversy.
When asked if he apologized, he said: “I meant no harm. I’m not the one who made the documentary.”
Asked if he was surprised by the backlash, Irving said: “I take full responsibility, I’ll say it again, because I posted something on my Instagram or Twitter that may have had some unfortunate untruths in it,” Irving replied.
Asked if he held anti-Semitic beliefs, Irving replied: “I respect all walks of life. I accept all walks of life. That’s where I sit.”
Pressed to answer yes or no to the question of whether Irving had anti-Semitic beliefs, he replied: “I can’t be anti-Semitic if I know where I come from.”
When Jonathan Greenblatt, executive director of the Anti-Defamation League, learned how the NBA star answered the question, he pointed out that Irving has “a lot of work to do.”
“The answer to the question ‘Do you have anti-Semitic beliefs’ is always ‘NO’ without ambiguity. We took @KyrieIrving at his word when he said he was taking responsibility, but today he didn’t follow through on that promise,” Greenblatt wrote.
After Irving was suspended Thursday, the ADL refused to accept the $500,000 donation that Irving and the Nets had previously announced. The ADL’s decision to reject the donation came before Irving issued an apology late Thursday.
The star’s comments also drew criticism from NBA commissioner Adam Silver, who said he was “disappointed” with Irving.
“Kyrie Irving made the reckless decision to post a link to a film that contains deeply offensive anti-Semitic material,” Silver said in a statement before Irving apologized.
The controversy comes as anti-Semitism on the rise in the US over the past few years. At least 2,717 anti-Semitic incidents were reported in the US in 2021, an increase from 942 such incidents in 2015. the ADL.
Irving has faced controversy in recent years that has affected his playing time. Last season, Irving he didn’t play at many of Brooklyn’s home games because he had not been vaccinated against Covid-19, a hindrance to playing in indoor arenas due to New York’s workplace vaccine mandate. The rule was later erected and returned to the Barclays Center in March.
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