A group of fans sat on the side of the Nets-Pacers game in Brooklyn on Monday, wearing T-shirts that read “Fight Anti-Semitism.” Men in the group wore skullcaps, as is customary in some Jewish communities.
The display is an obvious response to Nets security guard Kyrie Irving, who recently promoted an anti-Semitic film on his Twitter account.
During his last media encounter on Saturday, Irving backed his tweet and was combative with reporters when asked about it.
“I can post whatever I want,” Irving said when ESPN’s Nick Friedell asked him why he was promoting the film on his social media.
The Nets declined to make Irving available to the media after Monday’s game, a 116-109 Nets win.
Rolling Stone reports that the film Irving shared promotes tropes and “ideas consistent with more extreme factions of the black Hebrew Israelites, who have a long history of misogyny, homophobia, xenophobia, Islamophobia, and most importantly, anti-Semitism.”
Ahead of his press conference on Saturday, Irving denied “the ‘anti-Semitic’ label being forced on me” in a separate Twitter post.
Irving posted the first Twitter link to the film on Thursday. The tweet remained live during his press conference on Saturday and through Sunday. By Monday, Irving had it removed. His tweet was condemned by Nets owner Joseph Tsai and the NBA.
Tsai wrote on Twitter on Thursday that he is “disappointed that Kyrie appears to be supporting a film based on a book full of anti-Semitic misinformation.”
The Nets released a separate statement in which they “strongly condemn and have no tolerance for the promotion of any form of hate speech”.
The NBA then released a statement on Sunday that “hate speech of any kind is unacceptable and violates the NBA’s values of equality, inclusion and respect.”
Irving published his tweet amid the response to Kanye West’s anti-Semitic posts, which have led companies and individuals to sever professional ties with the rapper. Boston Celtics forward Jaylen Brown and Los Angeles Rams Aaron Donald’s defensive tackle said goodbye to West’s Donda Sports agency after Adidas broke away from West and its Yeezy line of sneakers under mounting public pressure.
New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, who is Jewish, co-sponsored a TV ad in response to the spate of anti-Semitic messages urging viewers to “stand up against Jewish hatred.” The ads ran during Sunday’s NFL games.