December 1, 2022

Nets suspend Kyrie Irving indefinitely after antisemitic film posting

The Nets suspended guard Kyrie Irving indefinitely on Thursday, calling him “unfit to be associated” with the team after he refused to say he had no anti-Semitic views a week after he posted a link on Twitter to a movie that made hateful comments about Jewish people. .

“Given a clear opportunity, such a failure to reject anti-Semitism is deeply troubling, contrary to our organization’s values, and harmful to the team,” the Nets said in a statement.

Irving will be suspended without pay for at least five games and “until he satisfies a series of objective remedial measures that address the harmful impact of his conduct,” the team said.

On Thursday, before he was suspended, Irving refused to apologize for his post, but said there were things in the film that he disagreed with.

“I meant no harm,” Irving said after a Nets practice. “I wasn’t the one who made the documentary.”

When asked what specific points in the film he disagreed with, Irving was vague.

“Some criticism of the Jewish faith and society, of course,” Irving said. “Some of the points made there were unfortunate.”

The team said in the suspension notice that it was “shocked” that Irving “did not acknowledge the specific hateful material in the film.”

Last week, Irving posted a link on Twitter to the movie “Hebrews to Negroes: Wake Up Black America,” which plays on anti-Semitic tropes of Jewish people lying about their origins. Among its false and outlandish claims about Jews is the claim that the Holocaust never happened.

“Those lies are unfortunate,” Irving said, asked if he believes the Holocaust happened, despite what the movie says. “And it’s not that I don’t believe in the Holocaust. I never said that. Never said that. It didn’t come out of my mouth. I didn’t tweet it. I never wanted anything like that. So, the Holocaust was something that happened to a large group of people who suffered something that could have been avoided.

On Sunday, Irving deleted a Twitter post that included a link to the film, but he hasn’t spoken publicly since Saturday. Later that night, during the game’s news conference, Irving argued with a reporter whether he was promoting the film by posting about it on Twitter.

Over the past week, the NBA and its players’ union have issued statements condemning anti-Semitism without mentioning Irving by name. Nets owner Joe Tsai said in a tweet that he was “disappointed” in Irving and would speak with him.

In a statement released Wednesday with the Anti-Defamation League, Irving and the Nets said they would each donate $500,000 to unspecified causes and organizations fighting hate in their communities. Asked Thursday if he had met with the Anti-Defamation League, Irving said he was told the organization wanted a meeting and “we handled it.”

Irving said in a statement Wednesday that he had accepted his position.

On Thursday morning, less than an hour before Irving spoke to reporters at practice, NBA commissioner Adam Silver expressed disappointment. Silver said he plans to meet with Irving within the next week.

In their statement announcing Irving’s suspension, the Nets said they tried to help Irving “understand the harm and danger of his words and actions.”

“We believed that taking the path of education was the right thing to do in this challenging situation and we thought that we have made progress with our collective commitment to eradicate hate and intolerance,” the group said.

Irving spoke to reporters for about six minutes Thursday before ending the news conference, according to a member of the Nets’ public relations team. Irving spent half the time answering questions about whether he was surprised his Twitter post hurt people.

“I guess a better question I can ask is, when I was a kid, where were you when I found out that 300 million of my ancestors were buried in America?” said Irving, who is of African American and Native American heritage. “Where did you ask these same questions when I was a child about the traumatic events of my family history and what I am proud of? Why am I proud to stand here?”

When asked if Irving held any antisemitic beliefs, he said he respected people of all walks of life.

“I can’t be anti-Semitic if I know where I come from,” Irving said when asked to answer the question “yes” or “no.”

Jonathan Greenblatt, chief executive of the Anti-Defamation League, chastised Irving for his response.

“The answer to the question ‘do you have any antisemitic beliefs’ is always an unequivocal ‘no,'” Greenblatt said in a post on Twitter. Kyrie has a lot of work to do.

NBA fines players for hate speech Minnesota Timberwolves guard Anthony Edwards was fined $40,000 in September for using homophobic language in a video he posted on social media.

In March 2021, the league fined Miami Heat’s Meyers Leonard $50,000 and suspended him for one week for using antisemitic slurs while playing video games on a livestream. Miami suspended him for two days pending an NBA investigation. The Heat then quickly traded Leonard to Oklahoma City, who released him a week later. After that, no team signed him.