Nets suspend Kyrie Irving for not disavowing antisemitism originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago
The Brooklyn Nets have suspended star point guard Kyrie Irving for at least five games without pay for his failure to "disavow antisemitism" and his refusal to acknowledge "specific hateful material" in the antisemitic film he promoted on social media.
“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 said in a statement on Thursday evening. "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.
Get Boston local news, weather forecasts, lifestyle and entertainment stories to your inbox. Sign up for NBC Boston’s newsletters.
"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."
The Nets said Irving's suspension would be at least five games and last until "he satisfies a series of objective remedial measures that address the harmful impact of his conduct."
The suspension came just hours following a media session where Irving once again opted not to offer up the apology that commissioner Adam Silver and many others were seeking for his posts.
"I didn't mean to cause any harm," Irving said on Thursday. "I'm not the one who made the documentary."
When asked a yes-or-no question about whether he had any antisemitic beliefs, Irving replied, "I cannot be antisemitic if I know where I come from."
Exactly one week ago, Irving made a pair of social media posts about the film "Hebrews to Negroes: Wake Up Black America." He posted a since-deleted tweet of an Amazon Prime Video link to the film and shared a screenshot of the film's Amazon page on his Instagram Story. The 2018 film is based on a 2015 book with the same title and both are "stuffed with antisemitic tropes," as Rolling Stone detailed.
The Nets condemned Irving's posts on Friday, with owner Joe Tsai saying he was "disappointed" in the point guard. A heated postgame media session followed on Saturday, when Irving defended his social media activity and clashed with a reporter over his recent sharing of an old video from conspiracy theorist Alex Jones.
Irving didn't speak to the media after the Nets' next two games, one of which fans seated courtside at Barclays Center wore "Fight Antisemitism" shirts.
Irving, the Nets and the Anti-Defamation League released a joint statement on Wednesday announcing a $500K donation from both Irving and the team toward groups that work to eradicate all forms of hate (the ADL has since rejected Irving's donation). Irving took responsibility for his posts but didn't apologize for them.
“I oppose all forms of hatred and oppression and stand strong with communities that are marginalized and impacted every day,” Irving said in the joint 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."
The 2-6 Nets, who recently parted ways with head coach Steve Nash, will now be without Irving against the Washington Wizards, Charlotte Hornets, Dallas Mavericks, New York Knicks and Los Angeles Clippers. The earliest Irving would be eligible to return to the floor is on Nov. 13 against the Los Angeles Lakers.