After several days of calls for the Brooklyn Nets to suspend Kyrie Irving for promoting a film filled with antisemitic tropes on his social media accounts, the franchise went through with it on Thursday, suspending the All-Star guard for a . This came after giving Irving several attempts to apologize for promoting the film and disavow antisemitism, as well as NBA commissioner Adam Silver issuing a public statement expressing his deep disappointment.
In order to be reinstated by the team, Irving must fulfill six requirements, 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
Many felt that the Nets took too long to arrive at a suspension for Irving, but Tsai wanted to give his All-Star guard ample time to apologize. According to reporting from ESPN, Tsai reached out to Irving on multiple occasions through text messages over the past week in an effort to try and figure out how to resolve the situation, but Irving never responded.
"Against the backdrop of calls for swift action, sources said Tsai had resisted and insisted on taking time to educate Irving on the horrors of antisemitism. He'd enlisted the counsel of the Anti-Defamation League, watched the full three and a half hours of the hate-filled movie Irving had shared, "Hebrews to Negroes: Wake Up Black America" -- complete with its Holocaust denialism and quoting of antisemites such as Adolf Hitler and Henry Ford - and researched the Black Hebrew Israelite movement, whose beliefs Irving frequently references in public settings.
For nearly a week, Tsai kept extending the clock to give Irving a chance to get this right for himself, the franchise and the Jewish community -- and Irving never returned a single of his text messages, sources said."
When Irving declined to answer "No" when asked if he held antisemitic beliefs while addressing media on Thursday after practice, and instead repeatedly saying, "I cannot be antisemitic if I know where I come from," it became the final straw for Tsai and the Nets. Brooklyn decided to suspend him for at least five games without pay saying in a statement he is, "currently unfit to be associated with the Brooklyn Nets." The Nets said in the statement that Irving will be able to rejoin the team when he "satisfies a series of objective remedial measures."
Irvinglate Thursday night hours after the Nets suspended him, 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." It's unclear if that apology will suffice, or if Irving will have to verbally issue a statement during his suspension. After Irving's apology surfaced on Instagram, Nets general manager Sean Marks said his statement was a but that it is "certainly not enough."
Irving will begin his five-game suspension Friday when the Nets take on the Wizards. Should the Irving's punishment wind up only being the five games, he would be eligible to return to the court on Nov. 13 when the Nets face the Lakers in Los Angeles.