Kyrie Irving finally addressed the controversy surrounding the antisemitic film he shared to his Twitter followers. But even with his statement, he didn’t apologize, with NBA commissioner Adam Silver criticizing the Brooklyn Nets star for not offering “an unqualified apology.”
On Wednesday, Irving “took responsibility” for his action and said he doesn’t believe that what the film said was “true or reflects my morals and principles.”
“I oppose all forms of hatred and oppression and stand strong with communities that are marginalized and impacted every day. I am aware of the negative impact of my post toward the Jewish community and I take responsibility,” he wrote. “I do not believe everything said in the documentary was true or reflects my morals and principles.”
He added, “I am a human being learning from all walks of life and I intend to do so with an open mind and willingness to listen. So from my family and I, we meant no harm to any one group, race or religion of people, and wish to only be a beacon of truth and light.”
In the statement, both Irving and the Brooklyn Nets pledged to donate $500,000 each towards “causes and organizations that work to eradicate hate and intolerance in our communities” and stated both parties would work with the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), a non-profit “devoted to fighting antisemitism and all types of hate that undermine justice and fair treatment for every individual.”
While Silver said the NBA “appreciates” the donation, the commissioner was critical of Irving’s non-apology.
“Kyrie Irving made a reckless decision to post a link to a film containing deeply offensive antisemitic material,” Silver said in a statement Thursday.
“I am disappointed that he has not offered an unqualified apology and more specifically denounced the vile and harmful content contained in the film he chose to publicize. I will be meeting with Kyrie in person in the next week to discuss this situation.”
And his critique was dead-on — Irving once again refused to say the words “I’m sorry,” instead opting for the cop-out “I’m not the one that made the documentary” when talking to the press on Thursday.
Irving’s statement came several days after Irving finally deleted his original tweet amplifying a film that pushed antisemitic tropes after receiving severe media backlash Irving had linked his 4.5 million Twitter followers to Hebrews to Negroes: Wake Up Black America, Rolling Stone first reported. The book espouses ideas in line with more extreme factions of the Black Hebrew Israelites, which have a long history of misogyny, homophobia, xenophobia, Islamophobia, and especially antisemitism.
While the Nets and team owner Joe Tsai both condemned the tweet — but not to the point of taking disciplinary action, as the point guard was in the starting lineup last Saturday — Irving defended himself first on Twitter and then during Saturday’s presser, which at one point featured a heated exchange between Irving and an ESPN NBA reporter.
“Out of all the judgment that people got out of me posting — without talking to me — I respect what Joe [Tsai] said, but there has a lot to do with not ego or pride with how proud I am be African heritage but also to be living as a free black man here in America knowing the historical complexities for me to get here,” Irving said.
Irving added that he found the film on Amazon by searching for “Yahweh,” which he said his name translates to in the Hebrew language.
“It’s on Amazon, public platform. Whether you want to watch it or not is up to you,” Irving said.
“There’s things being posted every day. I’m no different from the next human being so don’t treat me any different. You guys come in here and make up this powerful influence that I have over top of the adultery of, you cannot post that. Why not?”
On Sunday, Irving’s apparent BFF in antisemitism Kanye West took to social media to cosign Irving’s position. “There’s some real ones still here,” the rapper wrote, along with sharing a photo of Irving.
As former Net and announcer Richard Jefferson noted during the game, despite the controversy, “The tweet is still up.”
When Irving was asked why — amid the Sandy Hook parents’ trials against Jones — he recirculated the old InfoWars video, Irving explained, “I do not stand by Alex Jones’ position, narrative, court case that he had with Sandy Hook or any of the kids that felt like they had to relive trauma or the parents that had to relive trauma or to be dismissive to all the lives that were lost during that tragic event.”
However, “My post was a post that Alex Jones did in the early ’90s or late ’90s about secret societies in America and cults,” Irving said. “And it’s true. I wasn’t identifying with anything of being a campaign-ist for Alex Jones or anything. It’s just here are posts … and it’s funny, it’s actually hilarious because out of all the things I posted that day that was the one post everyone chose to see. It just goes back to the way our world is and works. I’m not here to complain about it. I just exist.”
On Saturday, the NBA issued a statement that, while not naming Irving, said, “Hate speech of any kind is unacceptable and runs counter to the NBA’s values of equality, inclusion and respect. We believe we all have a role to play in ensuring such words and ideas, including antisemitic ones, are challenged and refuted and we will continue working with all members of the NBA community to ensure that everyone understands the impact of their words and actions.”
Irving was then again asked about his amplifying of Hebrews to Negroes, which he denied was a “promotion.” “Don’t dehumanize me up here,” he told the reporter while side-stepping the question. “I’m free to post whatever I want.”
However, more than three days since posting the controversial tweet, Irving finally took it town. His second, follow-up post calling the “‘Anti-Semitic’ label that is being pushed on me” as not “justified” is still up.
Earlier today, Alec Sturm of Nets Daily, shared a photo of fans sitting courtside at a Nets game with Irving in the forefront. Each one wore a shirt that said, “Fight Antisemitism.”
Despite doubling down on his decision to share the antisemitic film in the first place and telling reporters, “I’m not going to stand down on anything I believe in. I’m only going to get stronger because I’m not alone. I have a whole army around me,” Irving does not seem to be facing any repercussions from the league at this time.
This story was updated on Oct. 31 at 8:25 pm ET to reflect the removal of Kyrie Irving’s original tweet promoting an antisemitic film.
This story was updated on Nov. 2 at 7:45 pm ET to include a new statement from Irving about the film.
This story was updated on Nov. 3 at 12 pm with Adam Silver’s statement.