Nets Kyrie Iriving says he ‘can not be antisemitic’

FILE – Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving (11) talks with head coach Steve Nash, right, during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the San Antonio Spurs, Friday, Jan. 21, 2022, in San Antonio. Whatever happens next in the never-ending string of Kyrie Irving developments won’t be taking up Nash’s time.
AP Photo/Eric Gay, File

If Adam Silver was looking for Nets star Kyrie Irving to apologize for the social media post sharing a film filled with antisemitic tropes, that didn’t come on Thursday when Irving addressed reporters for the first time since Saturday. 

Irving reiterated some of the points made in a prepared statement the prior night that he took responsibility for the post and that it was not meant to cause harm, but he failed to directly apologize for sharing the movie as NBA commissioner Adam Silver had seemed to want him to do. The roughly six-minute interview was not as contentious as his previous media availability following Saturday’s loss to the Indiana Pacers last weekend. 

“I take my responsibility for posting that,” Irving said. “Somethings that were questionable in there, untrue. Like I said in the first time you guys asked me when I was sitting on that stage, I don’t believe everything that everybody posts. It’s a documentary. I take my responsibility.” 

Last week Irving shared an Amazon link to the movie “Hebrews to Negroes: Wake Up Black America,” which is filled with antisemitic rhetoric. Irving said that he didn’t believe “some of the criticism of the Jewish faith” that was in the movie.

He also called some of the points made in the film unfortunate. 

On Wednesday night, Irving, the Nets and the ADL released a joint statement which included the Nets and Irving agreeing to donated $500,000 “toward causes and organizations that work to eradicate hate and intolerance in our communities.” However, Irving had not met directly with the ADL since his tweet, according to both the New York Post and New York Daily News, and he would not say if he had met with them during Irving’s availability on Thursday. 

“I was informed that they wanted to have a meeting and we handled it,” Irving said before a Nets media relations representative ended the questioning. 

Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving (11) drives against Dallas Mavericks forward Reggie Bullock (25) during the second half of an NBA basketball game, Thursday, Oct. 27, 2022, in New York. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)AP Photo/John Minchillo

There had been significant pushback since the original Tweet was published. Nets owner Joe Tsai had the most direct rebuke of the social media post in a Tweet of his own later Friday night and NBA commissioner Adam Silver expressed disappointment in Irving’s comments since the posting in a statement released Thursday morning. 

The statement also said that Silver was planning to meet with Irving in person. Nets interim head coach Jacque Vaughn didn’t want to comment on if he thought Irving would be suspended. 

“I’m not going to touch that, I’m not sure the parameters of what was said or what’s been out there,” Vaughn said. “I was at practice today and the group out here at practice I expect them to play.” 

Irving stated during a roughly six-minute media session following Nets practice in Brooklyn, that he did not agree with the film’s Holocaust denial. When asked if he had any antisemitic beliefs, Irving questioned where that label came from. 

“Again, I’m going to repeat. I don’t know how the label becomes justified because you guys ask me the same questions over and over again,” Irving said. “But this is not going to turn into a spin-around cycle. Questions upon questions. I told you guys how I felt. I respect all walks of life and embrace all walks of life. That’s where I sit.”

He added after a reporter directly asked if he was antisemitic: “I can not be antisemitic if I know where I come from.”

Irving has remained steadfast and confident in his beliefs, despite being somewhat vague in what part of the film he does believe.

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“I’m glad that I can stand on the truth because I’m not afraid of these mics, these cameras,” Irving said. “I used to be. Looking everyone in the eye and telling you the truth. That I’m proud of who I am. Any label that you put on me I’m able to dismiss because I study. I know the oxford English dictionary, you look it up right. One of the biggest mistakes I had being a kid was not knowing European or western language. Until I started looking it up, and understand the definitions and why they say if you want to trick a black person put it in a book.

“I was wondering my whole life why they said that. Now I’m 30 years old and I know reading is a superpower. It helps me understand where I’m going and where I come from. Like a tree with roots.”