Nets suspend Kyrie Irving for 5 games minimum: ‘He is currently unfit to be associated with the Brooklyn Nets’

NEW YORK — The Brooklyn Nets have suspended Kyrie Irving for a minimum of five games without pay, they announced on Thursday, a week after Irving first publicized a film full of antisemitic tropes. Before he is permitted to return to the team, Irving must complete “a series of objective remedial measures that address the harmful impact of his conduct,” as he is “currently unfit to be associated with the Brooklyn Nets,” according to the press release. 

Irving promoted a film entitled “Hebrews to Negroes: Wake Up Black America,” on social media on the afternoon of Oct. 27, and then refused to fully disavow its contents or say he’s sorry despite having multiple opportunities to express some form of contrition. Late Thursday, after the suspension was announced, Irving issued an apology over Instagram

Irving’s statement, in part, read, “I posted a Documentary that contained some false anti-Semitic statements, narratives, and language that were untrue and offensive to the Jewish Race/Religion, and I take full accountability and responsibility for my actions. I am grateful to have a big platform to share knowledge and I want to move forward by having an open dialogue to learn more and grow from this.”

It went on to say that he is “apologizing for posting the documentary without context and a factual explanation outlining the specific beliefs in the Documentary I agreed with and disagreed with.”

Earlier on Thursday — several hours before the suspension and apology — NBA commissioner Adam Silver said in a prepared statement that he was “disappointed” that Irving had “not offered an unqualified apology and more specifically denounced the vile and harmful content contained in the film.”

When asked to elaborate on his stance shortly after Silver’s statement, Irving said that he “cannot be antisemitic if I know where I come from.” Asked what he meant by that, he repeated, “I cannot be antisemitic if I know where I come from.”

On Friday morning, at shootaround in Washington, D.C., Nets general manager Sean Marks told reporters that Irving’s Instagram post was “a step” toward a return, but he had not communicated with the team enough throughout the antisemitism scandal and, ultimately, Irving’s actions will determine what happens next. 

Here is the Nets’ statement in full: 

“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. 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 today, 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.”

Irving first addressed his decision to promote the film, based on a book of the same name, on Saturday — he chose to double down then, and he tripled down after practice on Thursday, embarrassing the team that had put out a joint statement with him and the Anti-Defamation League the previous night. (Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt tweeted afterward Irving “clearly has a lot of work to do.” The Nets had given Irving to show some degree of remorse, and he instead was defiant.

In a tweet Friday morning, Greenblatt described the apology as “an encouraging step,” adding that the ADL will still not accept his previously announced donation, that Irving has “a lot more to do to undo this damage” and that the organization would engage with him “if Kyrie is open to direct dialogue to repair the harm that he has caused and to engage in a process of healing and learning in a sincere manner.”

The film Irving shared on social media is full of antisemitic conspiracy theories. It asserts that “The Jews have established five major falsehoods which work to conceal their nature and protect their status and power,” including “That 6 million people were killed in a holocaust during WWII.” Asked specifically about Holocaust denial on Thursday, Irving said, “The Holocaust in itself is an event that means something to a large group of people that suffered something that could have been avoided.”

At minimum, Irving will miss games against the Wizards, Hornets, Mavericks, Knicks and Clippers. If he fulfills Brooklyn’s requirements to return, then its Nov. 13 game against the Lakers in Los Angeles is the soonest he could return to the court.





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