Kyrie Irving will begin suspension of at least 5 games Friday over antisemitism controversy. The NBA star has since apologized



Kyrie Irving will miss the first of several Brooklyn Nets games on Friday after being suspended for comment about his tweet linking to an anti-Semitic documentary.

The Nets suspended Irving Thursday after he initially doubled down on his decision to share the content on his Twitter account. The NBA star point guard apologized hours later on his verified Instagram account, saying he takes full responsibility for his action.

“To all the Jewish families and communities who have been hurt and affected by my post, I am deeply sorry that I have hurt you and I apologize,” Irving wrote. “I initially reacted emotionally to 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 comments in the documentary.

“I did not intend to scorn any Jewish cultural history related to the Holocaust or perpetuate any hatred. I am learning from this unfortunate event and hope we can find understanding between all of us,” Irving continued.

Backlash against Irving grew after he defended his decision last week to share a link to the 2018 movie “Hebrews to Negroes: Wake Up Black America.” The film, based on Ronald Dalton’s book of the same name, has been criticized by civil rights organizations for its anti-Semitism.

Reporters asked Irving earlier Thursday — before posting his apology — if he holds anti-Semitic beliefs or if he was sorry. At the time, he replied that he respects “all walks of life” and that he had no intention of causing harm.

The nets later said: they were “appalled” when the player “refused to state unequivocally that he has no anti-Semitic beliefs, nor acknowledge any specific hateful material in the film,” during a media session.

“Such a failure to reject anti-Semitism when given a clear opportunity to do so is deeply disturbing, goes against the values ​​of our organization and constitutes behavior that is harmful to the team,” the Nets said in their statement before Irving apologized.

The team also said they have made repeated efforts to help Irving “understand the harm and danger of his words and actions.”

Due to Irving’s unpaid suspension, he will not play in Friday’s game against the Washington Wizards. The suspension will last for at least four additional games, and Irving must also comply with “a set of objective corrective actions that address the damaging impact of his behavior,” the Nets said.

Irving’s Nets teammate Kevin Durant described this week’s affairs as “unnecessary” and expressed his belief that the team could have “hushed up” about Irving’s comments.

“I’m not here to judge or talk down anyone… I just didn’t like everything that happened. I feel like none of it was necessary,” Durant said of Irving’s team-imposed suspension during the Nets’ pre-game availability on Friday. “I feel like we could have just kept playing basketball as an organization and kept quiet. I just don’t like it.”

When asked if he thought the suspension was unfair, Durant replied: “I believe and trust that the organization is doing what is right.”

Shortly after his media availability, Durant tweeted“I just want to clarify the statements I made during shootaround. I see some people are confused. I don’t condone hate speech or anti-Semitism, I always want to spread love.”

“Our game unites people and I want to make sure this is at the forefront,” he added.

Irving’s comments during Thursday’s media session with reporters have escalated the controversy.

When asked if he apologized, he said, “I didn’t mean to harm anyone. I’m not the one who made the documentary.”

Asked if he was surprised by the response, Irving said, “I take full responsibility, again, I repeat, for posting anything on my Instagram or Twitter that contained unfortunate falsehoods,” Irving replied.

When asked if he held anti-Semitic beliefs, Irving replied, “I respect all walks of life. I embrace all walks of life. There I am.”

Further pressed to answer yes or no to a question about whether Irving held anti-Semitic beliefs, he replied, “I can’t be anti-Semitic if I know where I’m from.”

When Jonathan Greenblatt, the CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, heard the NBA star answer that question, he pointed out that Irving has “a lot of work to do.”

“The answer to the question ‘Do you have anti-Semitic beliefs’ is always ‘NO’ without ambiguity. We took @KyrieIrving at his word when he said he was taking responsibility, but today he didn’t deliver on that promise,” Greenblatt wrote.

After Irving was suspended on Thursday, the ADL refused to accept a $500,000 donation that Irving and the Nets had previously announced. The ADL’s decision to reject the donation was made before Irving apologized late Thursday night.

The star’s comments also drew criticism from NBA commissioner Adam Silver, who said he was “disappointed” at Irving.

“Kyrie Irving has made a reckless decision to post a link to a film containing highly offensive anti-Semitic material,” Silver said in a statement before Irving apologized.

The controversy comes because anti-Semitism has increased in the US in recent years. According to the ADL, at least 2,717 anti-Semitic incidents were reported in the U.S. in 2021, up from 942 such incidents in 2015.

Irving has been caught up in controversy in recent years that has affected his playing time. Last season, Irving didn’t play in many of Brooklyn’s home games because he wasn’t vaccinated against Covid-19, which was a barrier to playing in indoor arenas because of a workplace vaccine mandate in New York City. The rule was later lifted and he returned to Barclays Center in March.

The Valley Voice
The Valley Voice
Christopher Brito is a social media producer and trending writer for The Valley Voice, with a focus on sports and stories related to race and culture.


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