Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving faced backlash for sharing a film with antisemitic views and is currently suspended from playing in the NBA.
Last month, Irving tweeted a link to the film “Hebrew to Negroes: Wake Up Black America,” a film that caused massive controversy due to the film being considered antisemitic. Following the post, the Brooklyn Nets, Nike and the NBA quickly made social media posts condemning Irving and stating that they do not support any form of antisemitism. For a week after making the post, Irving did not comment on if he was antisemitic or had any antisemitic beliefs.
On Nov. 3, the Nets released a statement that Irving would be suspended a minimum of five games with no pay. Irving made an Instagram post soon after where he acknowledged that the film he posted contained antisemitic statements and apologized to the Jewish community.
According to Shams Charania and The Athletic, the Nets told Irving that he would have to complete a list of requirements, including apologizing and condemning the movie, making a $500,000 donation to anti-hate causes, undergoing antisemitic and sensitivity training and meeting with the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), Jewish leaders and Joe Tsai, to return to play.
Many NBA stars spoke out and criticized the list of demands, including Irving’s former teammate on the Cleveland Cavaliers LeBron James. James tweeted that Irving should still be able to play.
“I told you guys that I don’t believe in sharing hurtful information. And I’ll continue to be that way but Kyrie apologized and he should be able to play. That’s what I think. It’s that simple. Help him learn – but he should be playing. What he’s asked to do to get back on the floor I think is excessive IMO. He’s not the person that’s being portrayed of him,” James said.
On Nov. 11, Nets owner Joe Tsai tweeted that he had met with Irving and that he knows Irving has no hate toward the Jewish community. When later asked if Irving would be returning to the team, he said that Irving has more work to do before returning to the team.
Boston Celtics player Jaylen Brown, another one of Irving’s former teammates, commented on Tsai’s statement on Kyrie.
“It’s still an indefinite suspension, he’s already missed five or six games, so how many games is he going to continue to miss? Is it another situation going on there? Is it a larger situation going on there, is it a larger conversation that needs to be had? We’ve yet to find out,” Brown stated.
Nike suspended its relationship with Irving due to the post and will no longer launch the Kyrie 8, Irving’s eighth signature shoe with the company.
Shams reported that Irving was expected to be cleared to play in the Nov. 20 matchup versus the Memphis Grizzlies in the Barclays Center. The Nets on the year are 6-9 and in the eight games without Irving they went 4-3. Kevin Durant recently complained about how he needed to play amazing to give the Nets a chance at winning, so Irving’s return should give a stagnant Brooklyn team a shot in the arm with his scoring ability.
The question that the media is asking is if Irving is worth all of the hassle for the NBA organization. No one can dispute that Irving is one of the best players of the current generation, but the off-the-court issues during the past couple of years are hurting his legacy and may make teams think twice about signing Irving.