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

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


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 All-Star point guard “currently unfit to be associated” with the organization after multiple times refused to apologize for a a post on social media 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 he met with reporters Thursday afternoon.

“Over the last few days, we’ve been trying to work harder with Kyrie Irving to help him understand the harm and danger of his words and actions, which began with the release of a film that contains deeply disturbing anti-Semitic hate.” The Nets said in a statement. “We believed that taking the path of education in this challenging situation would be the right one, and we felt that we had progressed in our joint effort to eradicate hatred and intolerance.

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“We were stunned today, when given the opportunity at the media session, that Kyrie refused to state unequivocally that he has no anti-Semitic beliefs, nor to acknowledge the specific hate material in the film. This was not the first time he had the opportunity – but failed – to clarify.”

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

In the message posted on Instagram late Thursday nightIrving finally relented and apologized to “all Jewish families and communities who were hurt and affected by my post”, admitting he had linked to the film which “contained some false anti-Semitic statements, narratives and language that were untrue and offensive”.

Irving continued, “At first I reacted out of emotion at being unfairly labeled as anti-Semitic, instead of focusing on the healing process of my Jewish brothers and sisters who were hurt by the hateful remarks made in the documentary. I want to clear up any confusion about where I stand on the fight against anti-Semitism by apologizing for releasing the documentary without context and a factual explanation stating specific beliefs in the documentary that I agreed with.”

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 paid by the Nets.

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

Irving linked to the film “Black Hebrews: Black America Awaken” in a social media post last Thursday. When questioned by reporters on Saturday Regarding the film’s content and a previous social media post about Alex Jones’ “New World Order” conspiracy theory, Irving denied he was anti-Semitic, but refused to apologize, arguing that “history should not 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 is “true.”

Over the past week, the NBA, the National Basketball Association, the Nets and team owner Joe Tsai have issued statements against anti-Semitism. Irving eventually deleted the post without any public comment or group eight fans sat near the field at the Nets’ win over the Indiana Pacers on Monday wearing “Fight Anti-Semitism” T-shirts.

In a joint statement with the Nets and the ADL on Wednesday, Irving said he was “aware of the negative impact my post had on the Jewish community” and that he “didn’t mean any harm.”

But Silver felt that was not enough of an answer for Irving’s “reckless decision” to be associated with the film. The commissioner said in a statement Thursday that he was “disappointed” that Irving did not issue an “unqualified apology” or “show the vile and harmful content contained in the film”.

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

“Where were you when I was a kid and realized that 300 million of my ancestors were buried in America? Where did you ask those same questions when I was a kid dealing with learning about traumatic events in my family history and where I’m proud to come from and why I’m proud to stand here? “When I say that I will not back down, it has nothing to do with rejecting any other race or group of people,” Irving said. “I’m just proud of my heritage and what we’ve been through. The fact that this has nailed me against the Jewish community, and I’m here answering questions about whether or not I’m sorry for something I didn’t create. That was something that I shared and I tell everyone that I take responsibility – that’s where I sit.”

In order for Irving to return to the court, the Nets said he must complete “a series of objective corrective measures that address the adverse impact of his conduct.” Brooklyn banished Irving for more than two months last season after he refused to get vaccinated, then reversed course and allowed him to return on a part-time basis 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 the November 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 making $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.

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

After Brooklyn parted ways with Nash, Irving looked inactive during Tuesday’s 108-99 loss to the Chicago Bulls, shooting 2 for 12 from the field and finishing with four points, the fewest of his four-year tenure with the Nets.

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