Brooklyn Nets point guard Kyrie Irving has found himself at the center of another controversy after he shared a link to a documentary that espouses antisemitic views.
The NBA star made headlines after he tweeted a link to the movie Hebrews to Negroes: Wake Up Black America on October 27 without comment. The film, based on a 2015 book of the same title, and contains many hateful and false claims about Jewish people, including that the Holocaust did not happen.
Nets owner Joe Tsai slammed the athlete in a tweet on October 28, writing: “I’m disappointed that Kyrie appears to support a film based on a book full of antisemitic disinformation. I want to sit down and make sure he understands this is hurtful to all of us, and as a man of faith, it is wrong to promote hate based on race, ethnicity or religion. This is bigger than basketball.”
The NBA, however, did not take any 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 I meant no disrespect to anyone’s religious beliefs,” he tweeted. “The ‘antisemitic’ label that is being pushed on me is not justified and does not reflect the reality or truth I live in everyday. 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 did not mean that he was promoting it. “Can you please stop calling it a promotion?” he said during a postgame press conference. “I can post whatever I want.”
Irving deleted the movie tweet on October 30, and he was initially allowed to continue playing with the Nets. During a November 1 TNT broadcast, Charles Barkley, Shaquille O’Neal and Reggie Miller slammed 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 him. … When you’re somebody as great at basketball like him, people are gonna listen to what you say.”
Two days later, the NBA finally suspended Irving for at least five games without pay, but the ESPY Award winner did not apologize until four hours after the disciplinary measures were announced.
“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,” the Nets said in a statement. “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.”
Keep scrolling for everything to know about Irving’s suspension.