The Brooklyn Nets syspended Kyrie Irving for at least five games without pay on 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 say he has no antisemitic beliefs unequivocally, 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 alarming, is against the values of our organisation, and constitutes conduct detrimental to the team. Accordingly, we believe he is currently unfit to be associated with the Brooklyn Nets.”
Irving’s reluctance to apologise came hours before the FBI said it had received credible information about a “broad” threat to synagogues in New Jersey, Irving’s home state.
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 evident during the point guard’s interview after practice earlier Thursday that little had changed.
Irving would say only that he meant no harm. He said some things in the documentary he tweeted a link to, Hebrews to Negroes: Wake Up Black America, were untrue, but he didn’t say he shouldn’t have posted a link. The documentary is based on a book that claims “that many high-ranking Jews have reported worshipping Satan and Lucifer”. The film’s director is a holocaust denier and provides a fabricated quote from Adolf Hitler in the film to promote an antisemitic conspiracy theory.
“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.