Nets suspend Kyrie Irving for a minimum of 5 games amidst off-court drama

Kyrie Irving has been suspended by the Nets
Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving (11) sits on the baseline during the first half of Game 3 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series against the Boston Celtics, Saturday, April 23, 2022, in New York.
AP Photo/John Minchillo

On Thursday night, the Brooklyn Nets announced that they suspended point guard Kyrie Irving for a minimum of five games without pay as a result of the off-court drama stemming from his publicization of an antisemitic film. 

The full statement reads:

“Over the last several days, we have made repeated attempts to work with Kyrie Irving to help him understand the harm and danger of his words and actions, which began with him publicizing a film containing deeply disturbing antisemitic hate. We believed that taking the path of education in this challenging situation would be the right one and thought that we had made progress with our joint commitment to eradicating hate and intolerance.

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. 

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. We have decided that Kyrie will serve a suspension without pay until he satisfies a series of objective remedial measures that address the harmful impact of his conduct and the suspension period served is no less than five games.”

The statement made public by the Nets takes a clear stand that it wasn’t simply the views of the point guard that led to this decision, but his repeated failure, according to the team, to understand and acknowledge the pain and hurt caused by the ideas represented in the film in question.

While some have been vocal that Irving has a right to speak his mind, the Nets have been steadfast in their assertion that the film the point guard publicized on his social media account promotes unfounded and harmful claims about Jewish people. 

According to Rolling Stone, who did a deep dive review of the movie in question, the so-called documentary provides little to no evidence for its claims. Some of these suggest that there were “Jewish slave ships” and that Jews are part of a media that has been “helping Satan deceive the world” for centuries. 

It also makes assertions, without evidence that “Interesting enough, in earlier years, many Jews and European Scottish/York Freemasons have claimed that they worship Satan or Lucifer” among other statements that Jews are secretly controlling major organizations and parts of government. 

Nets Kyrie Irving

The Nets stated that, when given an opportunity, Irving refused to unequivocally disavow the ideas presented in “the documentary,” which was why they made the decision to suspend him, without pay, for a period of “no less than five games.”

Prior to Irving’s press conference, he attempted to donate $500,000 to the Anti-Defamation League, but CEO Jonathan Greenblatt said following the suspension that the organization will not accept it. 

“We were optimistic but after watching the debacle of a press conference, it’s clear that Kyrie feels no accountability for his actions,” Greenblatt wrote. “ADL cannot in good conscience accept his donation.”

Gilad Erdan, the Permanent Representative of Israel to the United Nations since 2020, lauded the Nets for their decision.

“The Nets are showing no tolerance for hate,” Erdan wrote. “We can’t pick and choose when we want to stand against injustice. Kyrie hopped on the trend of being antisemitic and was put in his place quickly.

“I hope he opens his eyes beyond the conspiracy theories he spreads & can educate himself.”

While Brooklyn could look to deal their troubling point guard, they didn’t find any takers this offseason after Irving demanded a trade away from Kevin Durant and then-head-coach Steve Nash. One would imagine that it would be harder to find a taker for Irving now, which has led some to speculate that he may not play another game in the NBA this season. 

However, it is fair to say that we probably haven’t heard the last of this story. 

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