Dear Commons Community,
The Brooklyn Nets suspended guard Kyrie Irving indefinitely yesterday, calling him “unfit to be associated” with the team because he had declined to say he has no antisemitic views in the week since he posted a link on Twitter to a film with hateful claims about Jewish people. As reported by The New York Times.
“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,” the Nets said in a statement.
Irving had declined to apologize despite fierce backlash, but late last night, hours after the Nets suspended him, he relented in a post on Instagram.
“To All Jewish families and Communities that are hurt and affected from my post, I am deeply sorry to have caused you pain, and I apologize,” Irving said in the Instagram post.
The Nets said Irving would 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.”
Yestyerday, before he was suspended, Irving did not apologize for his post but said there were some things in the film he did not agree with.
“I didn’t mean to cause any harm,” Irving said after a Nets practice. “I’m not the one that made the documentary.”
When asked what specific points in the film he did not agree with, Irving responded vaguely.
“Some of the criticism of the Jewish faith and the community, for sure,” Irving said. “Some points made in there that were unfortunate.”
The team said in the suspension announcement that it was “dismayed” that Irving did not “acknowledge specific hateful material in the film.”
Last week, Irving posted a link on Twitter to the film “Hebrews to Negroes: Wake Up Black America,” which is driven by antisemitic tropes about Jewish people lying about their origins. Its false and outlandish claims about Jews include the assertion that the Holocaust never happened.
“Those falsehoods are unfortunate,” Irving said when asked if he believed that the Holocaust occurred, despite what the movie said. “And it’s not that I don’t believe in the Holocaust. I never said that. Never ever have said it. It’s not come out of my mouth. I never tweeted it. I never liked anything like it. So, the Holocaust in itself is an event that means something to a large group of people that suffered something that could have been avoided.”
On Sunday, Irving deleted the Twitter post that included the film’s link, but he had not spoken publicly since Saturday. That night, during a postgame news conference, Irving argued with a reporter about whether he was promoting the movie by posting about it on Twitter.
In his apology yesterday, Irving said he “initially reacted out of emotion to being unjustly labeled Anti-Semitic, instead of focusing on the healing process of my Jewish Brothers and Sisters that were hurt from the hateful remarks made in the Documentary.”
In the past week, the N.B.A. and its players’ union released statements condemning antisemitism without naming Irving. The Nets owner Joe Tsai said in a tweet that he was “disappointed” with Irving and would speak to him.
In a statement released with the Anti-Defamation League on Wednesday, Irving and the Nets said they would each donate $500,000 to unspecified causes and organizations that combat hate in their communities. When asked Thursday if he had met with the Anti-Defamation League, Irving said he was told that the organization wanted a meeting and “we handled it.”
Irving had said in his statement Wednesday that he took responsibility for his post.
Yesterday morning, less than an hour before Irving spoke to reporters at practice, N.B.A. Commissioner Adam Silver said he planned to meet with Irving and expressed disappointment that Irving had not “offered an unqualified apology and more specifically denounced the vile and harmful content contained in the film he chose to publicize.”
In his Instagram post, Irving apologized for “posting the documentary without context and a factual explanation outlining the specific beliefs in the Documentary I agreed with and disagreed with.”
He said he “had no intentions to disrespect any Jewish cultural history regarding the Holocaust or perpetuate any hate,” but he did not cite specific arguments from the film that he disagreed with.
The Nets said in their statement announcing Irving’s suspension that they had tried to help Irving “understand the harm and danger of his words and actions.”
What a sad situation!