Brooklyn Nets owner Joe Tsai and the organization itself issued rebukes of Kyrie Irving on Friday after the team's All-Star point guard took to social media a day earlier to promote an antisemitic book and film.
On Thursday, Irving posted a tweet and Instagram story that included the Amazon link to a film entitled "Hebrews to Negroes: Wake Up Black America," which is based on a book of the same name written by the film's director, Ronald Dalton, Jr.
Late Friday, Tsai responded to Irving's posts by sharing his thoughts on the actions of one of the team's core players. "I'm disappointed that Kyrie appears to support a film based on a book full of anti-semitic disinformation," Tsai tweeted. "I want to sit down and make sure he understands this is hurtful to all of us, and as a man of faith, it is wrong to promote hate based on race, ethnicity or religion. This is bigger than basketball."
Earlier on Friday, the Nets shared a statement condemning Irving's posts. "The Brooklyn Nets strongly condemn and have no tolerance for the promotion of any form of hate speech. We believe that in these situations, our first action must be open, honest dialogue. We thank those, including the ADL [Anti-Defamation League], who have been supportive during this time."
On Saturday afternoon, Irving issued a tweet in response to the Nets and Tsai's statements. "I am an OMNIST and I meant no disrespect to anyone's religious beliefs," Irving tweeted. "The 'Anti-Semitic' label that is being pushed on me is not justified and does not reflect the reality or truth I live in everyday. I embrace and want to learn from all walks of life and religions."
Prior to Saturday night's matchup with the Indiana Pacers, Nets coach Steve Nash met with the media at Barclays Center and, naturally, was asked about Irving's initial comments and the team's response.
"I don't have an update other than I know Kyrie made a statement and I know that the organization made a statement. The organization has spoken to Kyrie about it. Clearly, we all represent the values of inclusiveness and equality and condemn hate speech. I'm not familiar with the material that Kyrie was promoting, so it's really something that - I'm not too versed on it. But just as a generality, we believe in equality and I think our organization has stood for that for a long, long time and has backed that up. So when you get a chance to talk to Kyrie, I'm sure he'll be able to explain his perspective."
Shortly after Nash met with the media and offered his comments on the situation Irving has found himself in, the NBA released a statement on the matter.
"Hate speech of any kind is unacceptable and runs counter to the NBA's values of equality, inclusion and respect. We believe we all have a rule to play in ensuring such words or ideas, including antisemitic ones, are challenged and refuted and we will continue working with all members of the NBA community to ensure that everyone else understands the impact of their words and actions."
Irving has been known to share controversial opinions and ideas. He missed most of last season due to his refusal to get vaccinated for COVID-19, tweeting that the mandate to do so was "one of the biggest violations of HUMAN RIGHTS in history." He has also suggested that he believes that the Earth is flat, and in October, he shared a 2002 video from Alex Jones about a conspiracy from a group called the "New World Order."
The Nets have announced no discipline for Irving at this point, but he and the team failed to come to a contract extension in the offseason. That means he will be an unrestricted free agent after the season, and controversies like this won't help him land another long-term deal.