Even as the Nets pressed on with their season and tried to turn the tide, a reminder of the off-the-court drama that Kyrie Irving found himself in was right there in front of them.
As the Nets snapped a four-game losing streak, in part thanks to Irving, a group of eight Nets fans sat courtside with shirts on that read “FIGHT ANTISEMITISM.” It was a reference to the blowback Irving had found himself facing after sharing on his Twitter and Instagram accounts an Amazon link to a film called “Hebrews to Negroes: Wake Up Black America,” which contains numerous antisemitic tropes.
Irving had taken the Twitter post over the weekend after it had been up since Thursday and numerous people condemned the post, including the NBA, the Nets and team owner Joe Tsai. However, the Nets star did not receive any punishment for the post and he may have saved himself from any further issues by taking it down.
“I think it certainly helps. I wasn’t necessarily in on all those conversations, so I can’t comment on that,” Nets coach Steve Nash said when asked about it before Brooklyn’s win over Indiana.
Nash said that Irving’s handling of the situation was an “ongoing conversation” before indicating that his duties as coach had kept him out of the loop on some of the matters around the latest drama. Irving had defended his posting in a tense press conference on Saturday following the Nets’ first game against Indiana at Barclays Center.
The Brooklyn coach couldn’t say if anyone in the organization had asked Irving to take down the Tweet, but he had hoped everyone could grow from the experience.
“I just hope that we all just grow through this together,” Nash said. “There’s always an opportunity for us to grow and understand new perspectives. I think the organization is trying to take that stance where we communicate through this and try to all come out in a better position with more understanding and more empathy for every side of this debate and the situation.”
However, not everyone seemed ready to forgive Irving for the post and his defiant response to the backlash. Aaron Jungreis, one of the eight fans wearing the “Fight Antisemitism” shirts felt that the Nets shouldn’t keep Irving around.
“They should not keep a guy like that around. A lot of people are going to cancel (their tickets). They have to discipline him some way,’ Jungreis told Ian O’Connor of the New York Post.
Aaron Jungreis, in "Fight anti-Semitism" shirt, on Kyrie Irving Part 2: "We told him we love him anyway, even though we know he hates us." He said Irving told the 8 fans in those shirts that he appreciates them, but "he said it sarcastically."
— Ian O'Connor (@Ian_OConnor) November 1, 2022
Irving did approach the group during a timeout and he told the fans that he appreciates them, but Jungreis took it as more of a sarcastic remark. Although another fan in the group, Mike Dube, told SNY’s Ian Bagley that he didn’t read Irving’s comment to be sarcastic and said he hoped to be a “positive light” by wearing the shirt.
Irving was not made available to the media after the game.