Eight people donned “fight antisemitism” shirts in courtside seats at Monday night’s Brooklyn Nets game in protest of star player Kyrie Irving’s sharing a link to a film that includes dangerous tropes.
The fans in matching shirts could not have been more visible near half-court at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, sitting between the scorers’ table and the Indiana Pacers bench, during Brooklyn’s 116-109 victory.
TV viewers could clearly see the visual protest in nearly every Pacers’ possession of the first half and almost all Nets shots in the final 24 minutes of play.
Irving tweeted a link Thursday to the 2018 movie “Hebrews to Negroes: Wake Up Black America,” which is based on Ronald Dalton’s book of the same name.
Rolling Stone magazine said the movie is filled with “antisemitic tropes“ and seemingly adopts ideas that are more in line with extreme factions of the Black Hebrew Israelites, which have long been associated with homophobia, misogyny, xenophobia, antisemitism and Islamophobia.
One of the fans, 23-year-old Lindsay Haimm, said the group’s protest was aimed at antisemitism in general and less so against Irving in particular.
“Just anyone who has so many followers, speaking about antisemitism and him supporting this antisemitic movie, it speaks to so many people. So it’s so important that we’re able to take a stand,” Haimm told NBC News on Tuesday.
“And it is upsetting to see all these antisemitic things that he is saying and for him to be a part of a team that we have loved for a while now.”
Haimm works in advertising sales for NBC, the parent company of NBC News.
The t-shirt protest was the brainchild of Haimm’s father, Brian Haimm, and his friend and season-ticket neighbor Aaron Jungreis, according to Lindsay Haimm.
Irving spoke to the fans after the first quarter, she said, and the exchange was cordial.
“He said something like, ‘You guys are great in numbers. I’m grateful for you guys.’ Our response to him was, ‘This is what we have to do,'” Haimm said. “We didn’t say anything negative toward him specifically. That wasn’t the point of us going to the game. We weren’t going to boo him or say anything negative toward him specifically.”
Irving has refused to back down from his support of that movie and denies he’s antisemitic.
In a statement Saturday, Irving said he meant no disrespect and called himself an “OMNIST,” referring to a person who believes in all religions.
A day before, Brooklyn Nets owner Joe Tsai said he was “disappointed” by Irving ‘s conduct and hoped his star guard could understand that “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.”
After Monday night’s game, Irving was not made available to reporters.
“I think the organization is trying to take that stance or they may communicate through this, and try to all come out in a better position and with more understanding and more empathy for every side of this debate and situation,” Brooklyn coach Steve Nash said Monday.
Nash’s comments came less than 24 hours before he was removed as coach of the 2-5 team.
Irving played in just 29 games last season, due in large part to his refusal to get vaccinated against Covid-19, in violation of then-city codes mandating the shot.
He’s previously floated theories of the Earth being flat and supported Alex Jones’ “New World Order” conspiracy.
Matthew Mulligan and Minyvonne Burke contributed.