Irving spoke for just over six minutes, his first time meeting the media since Saturday, which was a controversial news conference in which he endorsed the “New World Order” views of conspiracy theorist Alex Jones and questioned the backlash he received for posting an Amazon link to a documentary titled “From Hebrews to Negroes: Wake up Black America!,” a film with antisemitic views.
Shortly before Irving walked across the Nets’ practice gym to meet with reporters, Silver released a statement, condemning Irving for his post and actions afterward. The NBA’s first post condemning hate speech did not name Irving. Neither did the tweet from the NBPA, of which Irving is a vice president.
The NBA issued the following statement: pic.twitter.com/vuTVhEegeh
— NBA Communications (@NBAPR) October 29, 2022
A statement from the NBPA.
— NBPA (@TheNBPA) November 1, 2022
“Kyrie Irving made a reckless decision to post a link to a film containing deeply offensive antisemitic material,” Silver said in his statement. “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. I will be meeting with Kyrie in person in the next week to discuss this situation.”
When asked if he’s apologizing, Irving said, “I didn’t mean to cause any harm. I’m not the one that made the documentary.”
On Wednesday night, in a joint statement, the Nets and Irving, in conjunction with the Anti-Defamation League, announced that Irving and the organization would each donate $500,000 “toward causes and organizations that work to eradicate hate and intolerance in our communities.” In the joint statement, Irving acknowledged his actions, but did not apologize for them.
Joint statement from Kyrie Irving, the Brooklyn Nets, and the Anti-Defamation League pic.twitter.com/5szamIClsh
— Brooklyn Nets (@BrooklynNets) November 2, 2022
The New York Daily News reported that Irving did not specifically meet with the league, instead sending his father, Drederick, and stepmother/agent, Shetellia. When asked about the Daily News’ report, Irving, again, did not give a straight answer.
“I was informed that they wanted to have a meeting,” Irving said. “And we handled it.”
The Nets go on a three-game road trip starting Friday in Washington, D.C., with a back-to-back in Charlotte on Saturday. The team heads to Dallas for a Monday night game against the Mavericks before returning home. Ben Simmons won’t travel with the team because of knee soreness and Seth Curry will only play in one of the first two games as he returns from ankle surgery. Interim coach Jacque Vaughn did not touch any questions related to Irving, including the guard’s status for the road trip.
Irving took just a few questions from reporters, reiterating what he said on Saturday, that “I don’t believe everything that everybody posts,” he said. “It’s a documentary. I take my responsibility.”
When pressed for specifics on what he didn’t believe from the documentary, Irving said, “some of the criticism of the Jewish faith and the community for sure. Some points made in there that were unfortunate.”
Asked if he’s surprised his post hurt anyone, Irving gave this lengthy answer:
“I think I can ask a better question, which is just ‘Where were you when I was a kid figuring out that 300 million of my ancestors are buried in America?’” Irving said. “Where were you guys asking those same questions when I was a kid dealing with learning about the traumatic events of my familial history and what I’m proud to come from. And why I’m 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 of people. I’m just proud of my heritage and what we’ve been through and the fact that this is pinned me against the Jewish community and I’m here answering questions of whether or not I’m sorry or not on something I didn’t create and it’s something I shared and I’m telling everybody I’m taking responsibility then that’s where I sit.
“So these same questions that you guys ask, me dealing with it as being a melanated pigmented person, all around the world and dealing with racial biases against my skin color. Demeaning me because of my religious beliefs. And I’m still sitting in this seat standing. So I take my full responsibility again, I repeat it, for posting something on my Instagram or Twitter that may have had some unfortunate falsehoods in it.
“But I also am a human being that’s 30 years old and I’ve been growing up in a country that’s told me that I wasn’t worth anything and I come from a slave class and I come from a people that are meant to be treated the way we’ve been treated every day. So I’m not here to compare anyone’s atrocities or tragic events that their families have dealt with, generations of time. I’m just here to continue to expose things that our world continues to put in darkness. I’m a light, I’m a beacon of light. It’s what I’m here to do. You guys ask me questions about basketball, I give you my expert opinion. You guys ask me about other things, I give you my opinion. It’s met with whatever you believe the perception or the deception is. You guys investigate my life. Every day. And you justify it by serving your own purpose, which I honor. I would like the same respect in return. Figuring it out just like anyone else. So please keep the same energy when we talk about anti-other things. Just because I post a documentary doesn’t mean I’m antisemitic. And it doesn’t mean I’m automatically standing with everyone that is believing in it.”
“It’s unfortunate timing that we’re in, but I’m glad that I can stand on the truth because I’m not afraid of these mics, these cameras. I used to be. Looking everyone in the eye and telling you the truth. That I’m proud of who I am. Any label that you put on me, I’m able to dismiss because I study. I know the Oxford dictionary, you look it up right? It’s one of the biggest mistakes I had in being a kid was not knowing European or Western language, ’til I started looking it up and understanding the definitions and why they say if you want to trick a Black person put it in a book. I was wondering my whole life why they said that. Now I’m 30 years old and I know reading is a superpower because it helps me understand where I’m going and where I come from. Like a tree with roots.”
At Monday’s game, eight people sat courtside wearing shirts that said “Fight Antisemitism” well within Irving’s view. After his monologue, pressed if he has any antisemitic views, Irving, again, reiterated he “respects all walks of life,” and his posting of the documentary doesn’t reflect his views.
“I can not be antisemitic if I know where I come from,” Irving said.
Irving’s latest comments added to what has been an unprecedented week for the Nets organization. Steve Nash and the Nets mutually parted ways on Tuesday after a 2-5 start and The Athletic’s Shams Charania reports that suspended Boston Celtics coach Ime Udoka, a former Nets assistant under Nash, will take his place.
Udoka was suspended by the Celtics in September for a violation of team policies stemming from an improper and intimate workplace relationship. Meeting with reporters on Tuesday, Nets’ general manager Sean Marks said he has “absolutely not” hired a new coach and added the organization does its due diligence when vetting candidates.
Asked why Irving was still playing, Marks started his answer by saying the point guard would not address reporters Tuesday after avoiding the press Monday in an attempt to get Irving to “simmer down.”
“At this point we don’t want to cause more fuss right now,” Marks said Tuesday.
Two days later, the “fuss” has yet to stop. Irving is still playing, all indications are Udoka is on his way, and now the NBA commissioner has entered the situation.
With Simmons out, the Nets are once again Durant’s and Irving’s team with two winnable games coming up. Durant said Irving’s situation hasn’t influenced the Nets’ play, despite his friend scoring just four points against the Bulls in Tuesday’s loss. While Irving’s controversy continues, so does the Nets’ attempt to turn around their season.
(Photo: Elsa / Getty Images)