Boston Celtics forward, Jaylen Brown, who is a vice president of the National Basketball Players Association, says that the union has issues with the requirements outlined for Kyrie Irving's reinstatement to the Brooklyn Nets. Furthermore, the Players Association plans to appeal Irving's suspension.
In an interview with the Boston Globe on Monday prior to the team's game against the Memphis Grizzlies, Brown said he has been in discussion with Irving, NBA commissioner Adam Silver and NBPA executive director Tamika Tremaglio about the situation.
"I don't believe Kyrie Irving is antisemitic," Brown said. "I don't think people in our governing bodies think he's antisemitic. He made a mistake. We understand from an outside perspective how important sensitivity is to not condone hate speech and not condone anything of that nature. It's sensitivity to the dialect around that. We don't want to stand up for somebody in order to not condemn hate speech, but I don't believe Kyrie Irving is antisemitic. And hopefully the NBA feels the same way.
"There is an interesting distinction between what somebody says verbally and what somebody posts as a link on a platform with no description behind it," Brown said. "Some people will argue there's no difference and some people will argue there is a difference. There's no language in our CBA. There's no rules against it. This is uncharted territory for everybody, and everybody is trying to figure out the difference between the two."
The Nets suspended Irving for a minimum of five games on Nov. 3 due to his repeated failure to disavow antisemitism and apologize for posting a link to a film that contained antisemitic tropes. Irving has since apologized on Instagram, butin order to rejoin the team. The list, according to Shams Charania:
- Apologize and condemn the film he promoted.
- Make a $500,000 donation to anti-hate causes.
- Complete sensitivity training.
- Complete anti-semetism training.
- Meet with the ADL and Jewish leaders.
- Meet with team owner Joe Tsai to demonstrate an understanding of the situation.
Irving has served two games of his suspension and the earliest he could possibly return is on Nov. 13 against the Los Angeles Lakers. It is unclear where he stands on that checklist, however, and there are some in the league who believe it was created with the expectation that he would not complete it, thus paving the way to a release, according to Marc Stein. If the Players Association does appeal the suspension, that would alter the situation, of course. Irving and Silver are expected to have a face-to-face meeting on Tuesday.
The Players Association released a statement on Nov. 1 condemning antisemitism, but did not mention Irving by name.
"Anti-Semitism has no place in our society," the statement read. "The NBPA is focused on creating an environment where everyone is accepted. We are committed to helping players fully understand that certain words can lead to hateful ideologies being spread. We will continue to work on identifying and combating all hate speech wherever it arises."
Per Brown, the Players Association's concern is that with no specific guidelines in place for a situation like this, Irving has received an aribitrary and excessive punishment.
"The terms for his return, they seem like a lot, and a lot of the players expressed discomfort with the terms," Brown said.
"He made a mistake. He posted something. There was no distinction. Maybe we can move forward, but the terms in which he has to fulfill to return, I think not just speaking for me, speaking as a vice president from a lot of our players, we didn't agree with the terms that was required for him to come back and we're waiting for this Tuesday meeting to happen to see what comes of it. But we'll go from there. That's all I'll say."