Skip to main content

Nets Suspend Kyrie Irving Without Pay in Wake of Antisemitic Post

The Nets announced their decision to suspend Kyrie Irving on Thursday as the star guard continues to face backlash from his recent promotion of an antisemitic film and book on social media.

Brooklyn issued a statement announcing Irving will be suspended without pay “until he satisfies a series of objective remedial measures that address the harmful impact of his conduct.” The team did not specify the length of the suspension but noted it will last for “no less than five games.”

The earliest Irving could return is Nov. 13 when the Nets take on the Lakers in Los Angeles.

“Over the last several days, we have made repeated attempts to work with Kyrie Irving to help him understand the harm and danger of his words and actions, which began with him publicizing a film containing deeply disturbing antisemitic hate,” the team said. “We believed that taking the path of education in this challenging situation would be the right one and thought that we had made progress with our joint commitment to eradicating hate and intolerance.

“We were dismayed today, when given an opportunity in a media session, that Kyrie refused to unequivocally say he has no antisemitic beliefs, nor acknowledge specific hateful material in the film. This was not the first time he had the opportunity—but failed—to clarify. 

“Such failure to disavow antisemitism when given a clear opportunity to do so is deeply disturbing, is against the values of our organization, and constitutes conduct detrimental to the team. Accordingly, we are of the view that he is currently unfit to be associated with the Brooklyn Nets.”

The Nets and owner Joe Tsai previously condemned hate speech in separate statements on Oct. 30, a day after Irving shared a since-deleted tweet advertising the documentary, Hebrews to Negroes: Wake Up Black America. Based on a 2015 book of the same name, the film is “stuffed with antisemitic tropes,” according to Rolling Stone.

The suspension comes just hours after NBA commissioner Adam Silver denounced Irving’s endorsement of the film which the 30-year-old again refused to apologize for during a six-minute media session Thursday afternoon. Silver also announced Thursday morning he intended to meet with the former All-Star next week.

“I didn’t mean to cause any harm. I’m not the one who made the documentary,” said Irving, who also doubled down on the tweet both on Twitter and in a heated post-game interview last Saturday.

When asked Thursday what specifically from the film did not line up with his beliefs, Irving said, “Some of the criticism of the Jewish faith and the community, for sure. Some points made in there that were unfortunate.”

He went on to say that he accepted responsibility for his choices when asked if he was sorry for initially posting about the film but declined to directly answer the question.

“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,” Irving said.

Prior to Thursday’s news, Silver and the Nets faced criticism for not discipling Irving as he continued to maintain his stance. Earlier this week, a group of fans wearing “Fight Antisemitism” shirts and yarmulkes sat courtside at the Nets’ game against the Pacers at Barclays Center. At one point, Irving acknowledged the group during the game with a thumbs-up.

On Wednesday, the Nets, Irving and the Anti-Defamation League released a joint statement announcing both the 11-year veteran and the team would each donate $500,000 to help “promote education” and combat hate speech by donating to causes and organizations that work to fight hate speech.

In the statement, Irving said he was “aware of the negative impact of my post towards the Jewish community and I take responsibility. I do not believe everything said in the documentary was true or reflects my morals and principles.” However, he did not apologize for his tweet about the film or his subsequent comments.

More NBA Coverage: