The Brooklyn Nets suspended Kyrie Irving for at least five games without pay Thursday, dismayed by his repeated failure to “unequivocally say he has no antisemitic beliefs.”
Hours after Irving refused to issue the apology that NBA Commissioner Adam Silver sought for posting a link to an antisemitic work on his Twitter feed, the Nets said that Irving is “currently unfit to be associated with the Brooklyn Nets.”
“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,” the Nets said in a statement.
“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.”
The Nets said they made multiple attempts in recent days to help Irving understand the harm and danger of his words and actions, but it was clear during Irving’s interview after practice earlier Thursday that little had changed.
Irving again refused to apologize, saying only that he meant no harm. He said some things in “Hebrews to Negroes: Wake Up Black America” were untrue, but he didn’t say he shouldn’t have posted a link to it.
“I’m not the one who made the documentary,” Irving said.
He was later asked if he had antisemitic beliefs, and he didn’t say no.
“I cannot be antisemitic if I know where I come from,” Irving said.
Irving and the Nets had announced Wednesday, in conjunction with the Anti-Defamation League, that each would be donating $500,000 to anti-hate causes. But Silver felt Irving needed to go further.
“While we appreciate the fact that he agreed to work with the Brooklyn Nets and the Anti-Defamation League to combat antisemitism and other forms of discrimination, I am disappointed that he has not offered an unqualified apology and more specifically denounced the vile and harmful content contained in the film he chose to publicize,” the commissioner said.
It’s the second straight season that the Nets have sent Irving away from the team. Last year it was when he refused to be vaccinated against COVID-19, making him ineligible to play home games. They eventually brought him back to play road games in December.