Kyrie Irving will not be hitting the court with the Brooklyn Nets for the next couple of games, as the 30-year-old athlete was suspended Thursday (Nov. 3) for at least five games without pay after a social media post resulted in anti-semitic controversy, according to a statement obtained by ESPN.
“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.”
After the suspension was announced, Irving issued an apology on Instagram. Uploading a black square to his feed, the NBA star wrote a lengthy caption addressing his thoughts and behavior.
“To All Jewish families and Communities that are hurt and affected from my post, I am deeply sorry to have caused you pain, and I apologize,” expressed the NBA star.
Irving’s statement continued, “I initially reacted out of emotion to being unjustly labeled Anti-Semitic, instead of focusing on the healing process of my Jewish Brothers and Sisters that were hurt from the hateful remarks made in the Documentary. I want to clarify any confusion on where I stand fighting against Anti- semticism by apologizing for posting the documentary without context and a factual explanation outlining the specific beliefs in the Documentary I agreed with and disagreed with. I had no intentions to disrespect any Jewish cultural history regarding the Holocaust or perpetuate any hate. I am learning from this unfortunate event and hope we can find understanding between us all.”
The controversy began after the Nets’ Oct. 29 loss to the Indiana Pacers. Irving shared a link to the controversial film Hebrews to Negroes: Wake Up Black America from his personal Twitter account, causing backlash for his assumed promotion of the film. The project has been criticized as being full of anti-semetic and other stereotypes and tropes throughout its message.
Initially, Irving refused to apologize or acknowledge the content of the film. As the conflict continued to evolve, Charles Barkley called for his suspension during a broadcast of NBA on TNT, calling the athlete an “idiot.”
Irving and the Nets’ initial atonement for the anti-semitic rhetoric was monetary. On Wednesday (Nov. 2) that they will each donate $500,000 to anti-hate organizations.