The now-deleted Twitter post — sent Thursday, Oct. 24, following a 134-124 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies — linked to a movie called “Hebrews to Negroes: Wake Up Black America,” which is based on a 2015 book of the same name by Ronald Dalton Jr.
The next time Irving had a chance to speak to the media — which was following an Oct. 29 loss to the Indiana Pacers — he said he was not going to “stand down” on his beliefs, even with condemnation from Nets owner Joe Tsai and the NBA, as well as a thorough reprimand from civil rights groups.
“I’m not here to argue over a person or a culture or a religion and what they believe,” Irving said in what was a contentious back-and-forth during his postgame news conference.
“Nah, this is what’s here. It’s on a public platform,” Irving said. “Did I do anything illegal? Did I hurt anybody? Did I harm anybody? Am I going out and saying that I hate one specific group of people? So out of all of the judgment that people got for me posting, without talking to me, and then I respect what Joe (Tsai) said, but that has a lot to do with not ego or pride of how proud I am to be (of) African heritage, but also to be living as a free Black man here in America, knowing the historical complexities for me to get here. So, I’m not going to stand down on anything that I believe in. I’m only going to get stronger because I’m not alone. I have a whole army around me.”
Tsai’s response to Irving’s posts that following Friday showed empathy for his star player, with the owner stating his desire to reach an understanding with the all-star guard.
“I’m disappointed that Kyrie appears to support a film based on a book full of antisemitic disinformation,” Tsai tweeted. “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.”
Likewise, Brooklyn Nets general manager Sean Marks spoke of wanting to bring in a third party to help everyone understand one another.
“As it pertains to Kyrie, we are having discussions. … From the highest levels (that) we’re involved with, the (Anti-Defamation League), and getting their advice and just hopefully they can advise us. We can bring something to the table that both parties, all parties, can be at least understandable to one another here and understand that there is no tolerance and no room for any hate speech, any antisemitic remarks whatsoever, whether it’s in this organization or any organization, for that matter,” Marks said Tuesday in a news conference addressing why the Nets and coach Steve Nash had mutually agreed to part ways.
The NBA. on the other hand, called Irving’s statement “hate speech,” “unacceptable” and “counter to the NBA’s values of equality, inclusion and respect.”
“We believe we all have a role to play in ensuring such words or 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,” the league said in a statement.
The ADL had statements of its own on Irving’s post.
“The book and film he promotes trade in deeply #antisemitic themes including those promoted by dangerous sects of the Black Hebrew Israelites movement,” tweeted Jonathan Greenblatt, the CEO of the ADL.
In his doubling down, Irving also addressed previous posts in which he had platformed conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, who just last month lost a defamation lawsuit in a Connecticut court and was ordered to pay nearly $1 billion to families of victims of the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting “for falsely claiming they were actors who faked the tragedy,” according to Reuters.
“That was a few weeks ago,” Irving said. “I do not stand with 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 parents that had to relive trauma. Or to be dismissive to all the lives that were lost during that tragic event. My post was a post from Alex Jones that he did in the early ’90s or late ’90s about secret societies in America of occults. And it’s true.”
“So I wasn’t identifying with anything of being a (campaigner) for Alex Jones or anything. … It’s actually hilarious because out of all the things I posted that day, that was the one post that 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,” Irving said.
Irving has not spoken to the media since that Oct. 29 news conference, including after Tuesday’s loss to the Chicago Bulls. The reason, according to Marks, is the team is trying to avoid causing an additional “fuss” by having Irving speak.
“I think everybody knows he’s going to have to answer these questions at some point and he hasn’t sort of shied away in the past,” Marks said. “But I think the last postgame meeting didn’t go well and we’re not trying to cover it up. I think this is something that needs to be addressed, but let’s address it in the right form and fashion.”
Former league MVP Kevin Durant was resolute when asked whether Irving’s social media choices, and ensuing attention from them, has had any impact on the team’s 2-6 start.
“Absolutely not,” Durant said. “The only impact is you guys and everybody outside the locker room.”
However, in Brooklyn’s 108-99 loss to the Bulls on Tuesday, Irving started the night 0-for-7 from the field, including going 0-for-4 from three-point range, and finished with a grand total of 4 points.
The Brooklyn Nets’ next game is Friday, Nov. 4, against the Washington Wizards.