The Brooklyn Nets suspended Kyrie Irving for no fewer than five games Thursday night, November 3, saying they were “dismayed” that Irving did not denounce antisemitism when speaking to reporters.
The Nets issued a three-paragraph statement saying they’d originally hoped a “path of education” would be enough for Irving to learn his lesson after a recent social media post promoted a book and film with antisemitic messages.
The suspension comes one day after Irving and the Nets pledged to donate $1 million to the Anti-Defamation League to combat “hate and intolerance” in a statement that did not mention Irving’s actions nor include an apology from the controversial point guard.
“Over the last several days, we have made repeated attempts to work with Kyrie Irving to help him understand the harm and danger of his words and actions, which began with him publicizing a film containing deeply disturbing antisemitic hate,” the Nets’ newest statement read.
“We believed that taking the path of education in this challenging situation would be the right one and thought that we had made progress with our joint commitment to eradicating hate and intolerance.
“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 also said Irving is “currently unfit to be associated” with the franchise and would be suspended until he undergoes a series of unspecified “remedial measures.”
“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.
“We have decided that Kyrie will serve a suspension without pay until he satisfies a series of objective remedial measures that address the harmful impact of his conduct and the suspension period served is no less than five games.”
Irving has embroiled the Nets’ organization in controversy since his initial promotion of the movie.
The seven-time All-Star has since deleted the post.
Although he did not apologize, Irving said in Wednesday’s statement he “meant no harm” for linking to the movie “Hebrews to Negroes: Wake Up Black America.”
“I oppose all forms of hatred and oppression and stand strong with communities that are marginalized and impacted every day,” Irving said in Wednesday’s statement.
“I am aware of the negative impact of my post towards the Jewish community and I take responsibility. I do not believe everything said in the documentary was true or reflects my morals and principles.
“I am a human being learning from all walks of life and I intend to do so with an open mind and a willingness to listen. So from my family and I, we meant no harm to any one group, race or religion of people, and wish to only be a beacon of truth and light.”
In a six-minute question-and-answer session with reporters on Thursday, Irving said he took responsibility for his social media post but again did not offer an apology – leading to the Nets’ decision to suspend him.
The suspension comes the same day that NBA commissioner Adam Silver said he would meet with Irving next week to discuss the issues surrounding his post. Silver also said he was “disappointed” that Irving did not apologize for his decision.
“Kyrie Irving made a reckless decision to post a link to a film containing deeply offensive antisemitic material,” Silver said in his statement.
“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. I will be meeting with Kyrie in person in the next week to discuss this situation.”
The film “Hebrews to Negroes: Wake Up Black America” traces the theory that Jews claimed the religion and identity of the original Israelites, which prompted the enslavement of Africans then brought to America.
Irving also drew criticism from Joe Tsai, owner of the Nets, and Sam Zussman, CEO of the Nets’ and Barclays Center’s parent company, BSE Global.
“There is no room for antisemitism, racism, false narratives or misguided attempts to create animosity and hate,” Zussman said. “Now, more than ever, there is a pressing need to ensure education in these areas. We are putting our prior statements into practice because actions speak louder than words.”
Irving will be suspended for the Nets’ upcoming three-game road trip to face the Washington Wizards, Charlotte Hornets, and Dallas Mavericks, a home game against the New York Knicks and a road game against the Los Angeles Clippers.
The earliest he could return to the court would be November 13 while the Nets are still in Los Angeles to face the Lakers. – Rappler.com