The Brooklyn Nets have suspended guard Kyrie Irving for no less than five games without pay and made his return contingent on meeting team-set benchmarks, deeming him “currently unfit to be associated” with the franchise following a continued refusal to disavow antisemitism.
Irving has been at the center of multiple controversies the last couple of years, including an anti-vaccination stance that cost him much of the 2021-22 season. The latest began on Oct. 27, with a tweet linking to the film, “Hebrews to Negroes: Wake Up Black America.”
Irving and the Nets said Wednesday each would donate $500,000 to “causes and organizations that work to eradicate hate and intolerance in our communities,” with Irving adding in a statement that “I am aware of the negative impact of my post towards the Jewish community and I take responsibility.”
Offered an opportunity in front of the media again Thursday, however, Irving largely remained defiant about the reasons for his post, leading the Nets to act.
“Over the last several days, we have made repeated attempts to work with Kyrie Irving to help him understand the harm and danger of his words and actions, which began with him publicizing a film containing deeply disturbing antisemitic hate,” the statement from the team read. “We believed that taking the path of education in this challenging situation would be the right one and thought that we had made progress with our joint commitment to eradicating hate and intolerance.
“We were dismayed [Thursday], when given an opportunity in a media session, that Kyrie refused to unequivocally say he has no antisemitic beliefs, nor acknowledge specific hateful material in the film. This was not the first time he had the opportunity — but failed — to clarify.
“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. Accordingly, we are of the view that he is currently unfit to be associated with the Brooklyn Nets. We have decided that Kyrie will serve a suspension without pay until he satisfies a series of objective remedial measures that address the harmful impact of his conduct and the suspension period served is no less than five games.”
Late Thursday night, Irving issued an apology on his Instagram, declaring both that the documentary included “some false antisemitic statements, narratives, and language” and that he was “deeply sorry” for any pain he caused all Jewish families and communities.
“I am learning from this unfortunate event and hope we can find understanding between us all,” he concluded. “I am no different than any other human being. I am a seeker of truth and knowledge, and I know who I Am.”