Brooklyn Nets point guard Kyrie Irving found himself at the center of another controversy after he shared a link to a documentary advocating anti-Semitic views.
The NBA star made headlines after tweeting a link to the movie Hebrews for Blacks: Wake Up Black America on October 27 no comment. The film, based on a 2015 book of the same title, contains many hateful and false claims about the Jewish people, including that the Holocaust did not happen.
network owner Joe Tsai criticized the athlete in a tweet on October 28, writing, “I am disappointed that Kyrie appears to support a movie based on a book filled with anti-Semitic disinformation. I want to sit down and make sure he understands that this is harmful to all of us and, as a man of faith, it is wrong to promote hatred based on race, ethnicity or religion. This is bigger than basketball.”
The NBA, however, took no formal action at the time. On October 29, Irving defended his initial post, describing himself as an “omnist,” which is defined as someone who believes in and respects all religions. “I am an OMNIST and did not mean to disrespect anyone’s religious beliefs,” he tweeted. “The label of ‘anti-Semitic’ being placed on me is unwarranted and does not reflect the reality or truth I live in every day. I embrace and want to learn from all walks of life and religions.”
Later that day, the former Cleveland Cavaliers player claimed that his first tweet about the film didn’t mean he was promoting it. “Can you please stop calling this a promotion?” he said during a post-game press conference. “I can post whatever I want.”
Irving deleted the movie’s tweet on October 30, and he was initially allowed to continue playing with the Nets. During a TNT broadcast on November 1, Charles Barkley, Shaquille O’Neal and Reggie Miller criticized the NBA for not reacting. “I think the NBA dropped the ball,” Barkley said. “I think he should have been suspended. I think [NBA commissioner] Adam [Silver] should have suspended it. … When you are someone as good at basketball as he is, people will listen to what you say.”
Two days later, the NBA finally suspended Irving for at least five games no payment, but the ESPY Award winner did not apologize until four hours after the disciplinary measures were announced.
“We were dismayed today when we had the opportunity in a media session that Kyrie refused to say unequivocally that she has no anti-Semitic beliefs, nor acknowledge specific hateful material in the film. This isn’t the first time he’s had the opportunity – but failed – to clarify,” the Nets said in a statement. “Such failure to reject anti-Semitism when given a clear opportunity to do so is deeply disturbing, is against our organization’s values, and constitutes conduct harmful to staff. Thus, we are of the opinion that he is unfit to be associated with the Brooklyn Nets.”
Keep scrolling to learn all about Irving’s suspension.