The Nets suspended guard Kyrie Irving indefinitely on Thursday, calling him “unfit to be associated” with the team because he refused to say he had no anti-Semitic views of the week since he posted a link on Twitter to a movie that includes anti-Jewish hate allegations. .
“Such a failure to disavow anti-Semitism when given a clear opportunity to do so is deeply disturbing, runs counter to our organization’s values, and constitutes detrimental team behavior,” the network said in a statement.
Irving refused to apologize despite the backlash, but late Thursday night, hours after he was commented on the Nets, he relented in an Instagram post.
“To all the Jewish families and communities who have been affected and affected by my position, I am deeply sorry for causing you pain, and I apologize,” Irving said in an Instagram post.
The Nets said Irving would be suspended without pay for at least five games and “until he meets a series of objective remedial measures that address the harmful effect of his behavior.”
On Thursday, prior to his suspension, Irving did not apologize for his position, but did say there were some things in the movie he didn’t agree with.
“I didn’t mean to cause any harm,” Irving said after practicing the nets. “I’m not the one who made the documentary.”
When asked what specific points in the movie he didn’t agree with, Irving answered vaguely.
“There is some criticism of Jewish religion and society, for sure,” Irving said. “Some of the points that appeared there were unfortunate.”
In the announcement of the suspension, the team said it was “dismayed” that Irving “did not acknowledge specific hate materials in the film.”
Last week, Irving posted a link on Twitter to the movie “Hebrews to Negroes: Wake Up Black America,” which is animated by anti-Semitic metaphors about Jews lying about their origins. Her false and bizarre claims about Jews include the assertion that the Holocaust never happened.
Asked if he believed the Holocaust happened, Irving said “these lies are unfortunate,” despite what the movie said. And it’s not that I don’t believe in the Holocaust. I never said that. He never said it, it never came out of my mouth. I never tweeted it. I’ve never liked anything like it. So, the Holocaust itself is an event that means something to a large group of people who suffered something that could have been avoided.”
On Sunday, Irving deleted the Twitter post that included the movie’s link, but he has not spoken publicly since Saturday. That night, during a post-match press conference, Irving argued with a reporter about whether he was promoting the film by posting it on Twitter.
In his apology Thursday, Irving said he “reacted at first out of emotion at being an unfair anti-Semite, rather than focusing on the healing process of my Jewish brothers and sisters who had been hurt by the hateful remarks made in the documentary.”
Last week, the National Basketball Association and its players’ union issued statements condemning anti-Semitism without naming Irving. The Nets’ owner, Joe Tsai, said in a tweet on Twitter that he was “disappointed” with Irving and would speak to him.
In a statement issued with the Anti-Defamation League on Wednesday, Irving and the Nets said they would each donate $500,000 to unspecified causes and organizations that fight hate in their communities. When asked on Thursday if he had met the Anti-Defamation League, Irving said he had been told the organization wanted a meeting and “we dealt with it.”
Irving said in his statement on Wednesday that he has taken charge of his position.
On Thursday morning, less than an hour before Irving spoke to reporters during training, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said he plans to meet Irving and expressed disappointment that Irving “did not offer an unconditional apology and more specifically deplored the vile and harmful content contained in the film.” who chose to publish it.
In an Instagram post on Thursday, Irving apologized for “posting the documentary without context and a factual explanation clarifying the specific beliefs in the documentary with which I agreed and disagreed.”
He said he had “no intention of disrespecting any Jewish cultural history regarding the Holocaust or perpetuating any hatred”, but he did not mention specific arguments from the film with which he did not agree.
In their statement announcing Irving’s comment, the Nets said they tried to help Irving “understand the harm and danger of his words and actions.”
“We believed that following the path of education in this difficult situation would be the right path, and we believed that we had made progress in our shared commitment to eradicating hatred and intolerance,” the team said.
Irving spoke to reporters for six minutes Thursday before a member of the Nets PR team finished the press conference. Irving spent half that time responding to a question about whether he was surprised his Twitter post hurt people.
“I think I can ask a better question which is, Where were you when I was a kid and found out that 300 million of my grandparents are buried in America?” said Irving, who has both African American and Native American heritage. “Where did you guys ask the same questions when I was a kid learning about the traumatic events of my family history and what I am most proud of? And why am I proud to stand here?”
When Irving was asked if he had any anti-Semitic beliefs, he said he respected all walks of life.
“I couldn’t be an anti-Semite if I knew where I came from,” Irving said when asked to answer the question with “yes” or “no.”
Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, criticized Irving for his response.
“Answering the question – ‘Do you have any anti-Semitic beliefs?'” Greenblatt said in a Twitter post. She is always “no” without equivocation. “We took @KyrieIrving at his word when he said he took responsibility, but today he hasn’t delivered on that promise. Kerry clearly has a lot of work to do.”
The National Basketball Association sanctioned players for hate speech. Minnesota Timberwolves guard Anthony Edwards was fined $40,000 in September for using anti-gay language in a video he posted on social media.
In March 2021, the League fined Miami Heat’s Leonard Myers $50,000 and suspended him for a week for using antisemitic slander while playing live video games. Miami also suspended him for two days while achieving the NBA. Then The Heat soon traded Leonard in Oklahoma City, which released him about a week later. No team has signed him since.
“Food lover. Unapologetic alcohol guru. Passionate internet geek. Hardcore analyst. Gamer.”