The Brooklyn Nets suspended guard Kyrie Irving for at least 5 games without pay after his antisemitic remarks.
The suspension was handed down Thursday hours after Irving refused to publicly apologize for his comments after NBA commissioner Adam Silver demanded one. It also comes the same day the FBI warned synagogues in New Jersey a credible threat had been received, leading to the 24-hour closure of at least one house of worship.
“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.”
Irving and the Nets had previously promised to each donate $500,000 towards causes and organizations working to eradicate hate and intolerance.
Irving has been roundly criticized after he shared a since-deleted Tweet about “Hebrews to Negroes: Wake Up Black America,” a documentary chock full of antisemitic rhetoric.
According to Rolling Stone, “The video is based on a venomously antisemitic book which asserts that “many famous high-ranking Jews” have “admitted” to “worship[ing] Satan or Lucifer.”
Nets’ owner Joe Tsai released a statement condemning Irving late last Friday.
“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,” Tsai tweeted.
Fans wearing “Fight Antisemitism” shirts were spotted court-side at recent Nets home games.
Irving refused to back down after the Nets practiced Thursdau.
“I cannot be antisemitic,” Irving said, “if I know where I come from.”
“Again, I’m going to repeat. I don’t know how the label becomes justified because you guys ask me the same questions over and over again,” he said. “But this is not going to turn into a spin-around cycle, questions upon questions. I told you guys how I felt. I respect all walks of life and embrace all walks of life. That’s where I sit.”
Irving is expected to meet with commissioner Silver next week.
This is a developing story.