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NBA’s Kyrie Irving Claims He Is Not An Antisemite

The Brooklyn Nets star apologized “deeply” for sharing antisemitic content on social media, which led to his team suspension.

Basketball star Kyrie Irving was suspended from the Brooklyn Nets for the last eight games after he “refused to unequivocally say he has no antisemitic beliefs.” 

On Saturday, Nov. 19, he changed his mind. 

Then, on Sunday, he rejoined his team in a game against the Memphis Grizzlies.

Irving told local sports network SNY that he was not antisemitic and wanted to “set a greater example.” He apologized “deeply” for sharing antisemitic content on social media, where he has 5 million followers. Irving failed to repudiate antisemitism earlier this month, which led to his team suspending him. 

“I don’t have hate in my heart for the Jewish people or anyone that identifies as a Jew,” Irving said.

“The difficult aspect is just processing all this, understanding the power of my voice, the influence I have. I am no one’s idol, but I am a human being that wants to make [an] impact and change.”

Jayson Tatum (l) of the Boston Celtics defends Kyrie Irving of the Brooklyn Nets during the first quarter of Round 1 Game 1 of the 2022 NBA Eastern Conference Playoffs at TD Garden on April 17. Irving just rejoined his team after an eight-game suspension. MADDIE MEYER/GETTY IMAGES 

“I really want to focus on the hurt that I caused,” said Irving. “I just want to apologize deeply for all my actions throughout the time that it’s been since the post was first put up. I’ve had a lot of time to think.”

Nike suspended its relationship with Irvin after he tweeted an antisemitic documentary last month. 

Irving tweeted a link to the 2018 movie “Hebrews to Negroes: Wake Up Black America,” which is based on Ronald Dalton’s book of the same name. The book has been condemned as antisemitic by civil-rights groups.

The Nets had kept him off the court after his incendiary actions. The team said it was “dismayed” earlier this month when Irving “refused to unequivocally say he has no antisemitic beliefs, nor acknowledge specific hateful material in the film,” during a media session.

“This was not the first time he had the opportunity — but failed — to clarify,” the Nets said.

Kyrie Irving (l) played for the Cleveland Cavaliers from 2011-2017. He then joined the Boston Celtics for two years before signing with the Brooklyn Nets in 2019.  CAVS HISTORY/FLICKR

The Anti-Defamation League was unmoved by Irving’s earlier attempts at a Twitter apology, noting the answer to: “Do you have any antisemitic beliefs’ is always ‘NO’ without equivocation,” Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the ADL, tweeted Nov. 3. 

In 2021, the ADL tabulated 2,717 antisemitic incidents throughout the United States. This is a 34 percent increase from the 2,026 incidents tabulated in 2020 — and the highest number on record since the ADL began tracking antisemitic incidents in 1979.

Irving isn’t the only celebrity making antisemitic remarks. 

In recent podcasts and interviews, Kanye West, now known as Ye, threatened to go “death con 3 on JEWISH PEOPLE.” Under pressure, Adidas ended its “Yeezy” brand partnership with the rapper on Oct. 25, and West saw his net worth drop from $2 billion to $400 million. Several other companies have cut ties with West over the controversy, such as Gap, Balenciaga, TJ Maxx and Foot Locker.

Produced in association with Jewish News Syndicate.

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