Kyrie Irving He will miss the first of several Brooklyn Nets games on Friday after being suspended for the comments about the tweet linking it to an anti-Semitic documentary.
The Nets suspended Irving on Thursday after initially doubling down on the decision to share the content on his Twitter account. The star NBA point guard apologized hours later on his verified Instagram account, saying he takes full responsibility for his actions.
“To all the Jewish families and communities who have been hurt and harmed by my post, I am sorry for the pain I have caused, and I apologize,” Irving wrote. “At first I reacted emotionally to being unfairly labeled anti-Semitic, instead of focusing on the healing process of my Jewish brothers and sisters who were hurt by the hateful remarks made in the documentary.
“I had no intention of disrespecting the Jewish cultural history of the Holocaust or perpetuating any hatred. I am learning from this unfortunate event and hope to find understanding with everyone,” Irving continued.
Backlash against Irving intensified last week after he defended his decision to share a link to the 2018 film “Hebrews to Negroes: Wake Up Black America.” The film, based on Ronald Dalton’s book of the same name, has been blasted by civil rights groups for its anti-Semitism.
Irving was asked by reporters earlier Thursday – before the apology was published – whether he held anti-Semitic beliefs or whether he regretted them. At the time, he responded by saying that he respects “all walks of life” and did not want to cause harm.
The Nets said afterward They were “dismayed” when the player “refused to say he had any anti-Semitic beliefs or acknowledge any specific hate material in the film” during a media session.
“The denial of anti-Semitism when given a clear opportunity to do so is deeply troubling, contrary to the values of our organization, and conduct that is detrimental to the team,” the Nets said before Irving apologized.
The team said they made repeated attempts to help Irving “understand the harm and danger of his words and actions.”
Irving’s unpaid suspension means he will not play in Friday’s game against the Washington Wizards. The suspension will last at least four more games, and Irving must also complete “a number of objective corrective measures that address the adverse impact of his conduct,” the Nets said.
Irving’s remarks during Thursday’s media session with reporters have added to the controversy.
Asked if he was apologizing, he said: “I didn’t mean to cause any harm. I’m not the one who made the documentary.”
Asked if he was surprised by the backlash, Irving said, “I take full responsibility, I’ll repeat myself, for posting something on my Instagram or Twitter that may contain unfortunate falsehoods,” Irving replied.
Asked if he held any anti-Semitic beliefs, Irving replied: “I respect all walks of life. I cover all walks of life. I sit there.”
When pressed to answer yes or no to a question about whether he held anti-Semitic beliefs, Irving replied, “I can’t be anti-Semitic if I know where I come from.”
Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Famation League, when asked how the NBA star responded to that question, noted that Irving has “a lot of work to do.”
“The answer to the question ‘do you have anti-Semitic beliefs’ is always an unequivocal ‘NO.’ We took @KyrieIrving at his word when he said he took responsibility, but today he failed to follow through on that promise,” Greenblatt wrote.
After Irving’s suspension Thursday, the ADL declined to accept the previously announced $500,000 donation by Irving and the Nets. The ADL’s decision to reject the donation came before Irving issued an apology late Thursday.
The star’s comments also drew rebuke from NBA commissioner Adam Silver, who said he was “disappointed” in Irving.
“Kyrie Irving made the bold decision to post a link to a movie that contained deeply offensive anti-Semitic material,” Silver said before Irving apologized.
The controversy comes as anti-Semitism has risen in the US in recent years. At least 2,717 anti-Semitic incidents were reported in the US in 2021, up from 942 incidents in 2015, according to the ADL.
Irving has had controversy in recent years that has affected his playing time. Last season, Irving didn’t play in many of Brooklyn’s home games due to his Covid-19 vaccination, which prevented him from playing indoors due to New York’s workplace vaccination mandate. The rule was later lifted and it returned to the Barclays Center in March.