NEW YORK — Kyrie Irving stopped short of formally apologizing Thursday for his controversial social media post about a book and movie that feature antisemitic tropes — the way many in both the Brooklyn Nets organization and the NBA league office were hoping to hear.
“I take my responsibility for posting that,” Irving said in his first public comments since a contentious news conference Saturday night. “Some things that were questionable in there, untrue. Like I said in the first time you guys asked me when I was sitting on that stage, I don’t believe everything that everybody posts — it’s a documentary. So I take my responsibility.”
NBA commissioner Adam Silver, in a statement released minutes before Irving spoke, said he was “disappointed” that Irving “has not offered an unqualified apology and more specifically denounced the vile and harmful content contained in the film he chose to publicize.” Silver added that he will be meeting with Irving in person within the next week.
But Irving stood his ground again Thursday regarding both his decision to post the link to the film — which he has since deleted — and his postgame comments Saturday night.
“I didn’t mean to cause any harm,” Irving said. “I’m not the one that made the documentary.”
Irving spoke for just over six minutes Thursday in a news conference that was cut short by a Nets PR staffer. He said some things in “Hebrews to Negroes: Wake Up Black America” were untrue, but didn’t say he shouldn’t have posted a link to it and instead asked reporters why they weren’t asking questions about the history of Black people in America.
“Where were you guys asking those same questions when I was a kid learning about the traumatic events of my familial history and what I’m proud to come from,” Irving said, “and proud to stand here and why when I repeat myself that I’m not going to stand down, it has nothing to do with dismissing any other race or group people.
“I’m just proud of my heritage and what we’ve been through and the fact that this has pinned me against the Jewish community and I’m here answering questions of whether or not I’m sorry or not about something I didn’t create and was something I shared, and I’m telling everybody I’m taking responsibility, than that’s where I sit.”
Irving also was asked specifically about his beliefs regarding the Holocaust.
“Those falsehoods are unfortunate,” he said, referring to content in the film. “And it’s not that I don’t believe in the Holocaust. I never said that. Never, ever have said it. It’s not come out of my mouth. I never tweeted it. I never liked anything like it. So the Holocaust in itself is an event that means something to a large group of people that suffered something that could have been avoided.”
When asked specifically whether he had any antisemitic beliefs, Irving chose to not directly answer the question.
“Again, I’m going to repeat. I don’t know how the label becomes justified because you guys ask me the same questions over and over again,” Irving said. “But this is not going to turn into a spin-around cycle — questions upon questions.
“I told you guys how I felt. I respect all walks of life and embrace all walks of life. That’s where I sit. … I cannot be antisemitic if I know where I come from.”
Irving also declined to directly answer whether he met with the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), which had released a joint statement Wednesday night with the Nets and Irving.
“I was informed that they wanted to have a meeting, and we handled it,” he said.
Jonathan Greenblatt, the CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, said in a tweet Thursday that the ADL “took (Irving) at his word when he said he took responsibility, but today he did not make good on that promise.”
The answer to the question “Do you have any antisemitic beliefs” is always “NO” without equivocation. We took @KyrieIrving at his word when he said he took responsibility, but today he did not make good on that promise. Kyrie clearly has a lot of work to do. https://t.co/0hQ6pEueOP
— Jonathan Greenblatt (@JGreenblattADL) November 3, 2022
Irving and the Nets announced Wednesday they would each would be donating $500,000 to anti-hate causes. But Silver said in his statement Thursday that Irving needed to go further.
“While we appreciate the fact that he agreed to work with the Brooklyn Nets and the Anti-Defamation League to combat antisemitism and other forms of discrimination, I am disappointed that he has not offered an unqualified apology and more specifically denounced the vile and harmful content contained in the film he chose to publicize,” the commissioner said.
The National Basketball Players Association also put out a statement this week echoing an earlier statement this week from the league, which did not identify Irving. The NBPA also did not mention Irving, who is a vice president of the union and a member of its executive committee.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.