As Nets guard Kyrie Irving prepares to return to the court on Sunday against the Grizzlies following a team-issued suspension for sharing an antisemitic film on social media, the Brooklyn star sat down in an exclusive interview with SNY’s Ian Begley to discuss his suspension and path to return to the court.
In the interview, Begley asked Irving if he was antisemitic.
“No, I am not antisemitic. I never have been. I don’t have hate in my heart for the Jewish people or for anyone that identifies as a Jew. I’m not anti-Jewish or any of that. It’s been difficult to sit at home with my family with them seeing all this and having questions and the part that hasn’t been hard is explaining myself, because I know who I am and what I represent,” Irving said.
When asked about his intent behind sharing the video, Irving expanded on his reasoning behind the tweet of the antisemitic film on social media.
“Well number one, I meant no harm,” Irving said. “I didn’t want to be put in a position where I’m against any community. Like I said during the press conference after one of the games, I just went to look up my name Kyrie, which also translates in Hebrew to ‘Yahweh’ and I wanted to share the link with all those that were also on the same journey and search for their heritage as I am on.
“The unfortunate aspect in that documentary is the antisemitic remarks in terms of generalizing Jewish people. I believe that was unfair, and that wasn’t the aspect of the post that I wanted the focus to be on. The initial post was supposed to be for all those who were searching for more information, more history and are able to interpret it in a way where they see it as progressive and they learn something from it,” Irving said.
“Again, it’s just a post. There’s no context I put into it. I was just watching a video to learn more about my heritage through a deeper dive into who I am. Unfortunately in that process I hurt some people, and I’m sorry for that,” Irving continued.
Begley also asked Irving about his half-apology in which he didn’t explicitly say that he was antisemitic. During that press conference earlier this month, he said he took responsibility for posting the material, but did not explicitly apologize. When asked if he was antisemitic, he said “I cannot be antisemitic if I know where I come from.”
Irving told Begley, “I felt like I was protecting my character and I reacted out of just pure defense and just hurt that I could be labeled, or I thought that I was being labeled as antisemitic or anti-Jewish, and I’ve felt like that was just so disrespectful to ask me whether or not I was antisemitic or not.”
He continued, “Now to the outside world, that may have been seen as a simple ‘yes’ or ’no.’ Which rightfully so, it should’ve been, ’No, I’m not antisemitic. No, I’m not anti-Jewish.’ I’m a person who believes we should all have equal opportunities and that we should all shower each other with love, and that should be at the forefront.”
Irving was required to satisfy “a series of objective remedial measures that addressed the harmful impact of his conduct.” He last played for the Nets on Nov. 1 and has missed eight games.
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