Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James has long been one of the NBA's vocal leaders on social issues, and on Friday night he discussed the situation concerning his former teammate, Kyrie Irving, who was recently by the Brooklyn Nets for posting a Twitter link to a documentary featuring antisemitic material and failing to issue a sufficient apology in a timely manner.
Following the Lakers' 130-116 loss to the Utah Jazz, James said that he felt Irving's behavior was harmful, and that he does not condone hate towards any group.
"It's simple. Me, personally, I don't condone any hate to any kinds, any race, to Jewish communities, to Black communities, to Asian communities. You guys know where I stand," James said. " ... I believe what Kyrie did caused some harm to a lot of people. He has since, over the last -- today, or was it yesterday -- he apologized. But he caused some harm, and I think it's unfortunate.
"I don't stand on the position to harm people when it comes to your voice or your platform or anything. So it doesn't matter what color your skin is, how tall you are, what position you're in -- if you are promoting or soliciting or saying harmful things to any community that harm people, then I don't respect it. I don't condone it."
James, who played with Irving for three seasons with the Cleveland Cavaliers, also referenced the recent decision by his production group, SpringHill Company, not to air a recorded episode of "The Shop" that featured rapper Kanye West. According to ESPN's Andscape, West doubled down on antisemitic remarks during filming, which led to the company choosing not to release the episode.
"While The Shop embraces thoughtful discourse and differing opinions, we have zero tolerance for hate speech of any kind and will never allow our channels to be used to promote hate," SpringHill Company CEO Maverick Carter told Andscape. "I take full responsibility for believing Kanye wanted a different conversation and apologize to our guests and crew. Hate speech should never have an audience."
In the hours following the Nets' announcement of his suspension on Thursday, Irving apologized via Instagram, saying in part, "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."
On Friday, Nike, and said it will not launch the Kyrie 8, the latest edition of Irving's signature shoe.
Nets general manager Sean Marks said on Friday morning that Irving's apology was "a step in the right direction," but there are further conditions to be met before considering reinstatement, including a meeting with Jewish leaders, according to ESPN's Nick Friedell.
As of now, Irving's status with the Nets remains unclear, but should the five-game suspension hold, Irving would be able to return to action on Nov. 13 when the Nets take on James' Lakers in Los Angeles.
"I don't know the direction, the steps that he takes, but he's apologized for what he said and I hope that he understands that what he said was harmful to a lot of people," James said on Friday. "And we as humans, none of us are perfect, but I hope he understands what he did and the actions that he took are just harmful to a lot of people."