Bombshell suspension for ‘reckless’ NBA star

The Brooklyn Nets are suspending Kyrie Irving for at least five games without pay, saying they were dismayed by his failure to “unequivocally say he has no antisemitic beliefs.”

Hours after Irving refused to issue the apology that NBA Commissioner Adam Silver sought for posting a link to an antisemitic work on his Twitter feed, the Nets said that Irving is “currently unfit to be associated with the Brooklyn Nets.”

“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.

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“Such failure to disavow anti-Semitism 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.”

Speaking to the media, the Brooklyn Nets guard stopped short of saying he was sorry for doing so.

“I’m not the one who made the documentary,” Irving said after the Nets practiced.

Irving again said he meant no harm in posting the tweet — which he has since deleted — but didn’t apologise for doing so and instead asked reporters why they weren’t asking questions about the history of Blacks in America, saying 300 million of his ancestors are buried in the country.

“Where were you guys asking those same questions when I was a kid learning about the traumatic events of my familial history and what I’m proud to come from,” Irving said, “and proud to stand here and why when I repeat myself that I’m not going to stand down, it has nothing to do with dismissing any other race or group of people.

“I’m just proud of my heritage and what we’ve been through and the fact that this has pinned me against the Jewish community and I’m here answering questions of whether or not I’m sorry or not about something I didn’ t create and was something I shared, and I’m telling everybody I’m taking responsibility, than that’s where I sit.”

Silver’s call for an apology were the second statement the league office has issued on the latest Irving controversy, and the first in which Irving was referenced by name.

Irving and the Nets announced Thursday (AEDT), in conjunction with the Anti-Defamation League, that each would be donating $500,000 ($787,000 AUD) to anti-hate causes. But Silver felt Irving needed to go further.

“While we appreciate the fact that he agreed to work with the Brooklyn Nets and the Anti-Defamation League to combat anti-Semitism and other forms of discrimination, 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 thing to publicise,” the commissioner said.

Silver added that he will be meeting with Irving in person within the next week. The league’s first statement, clearly in reference to Irving’s tweet, said “hate speech of any kind is unacceptable and runs counter to the NBA’s values ​​of equality, inclusion and respect.”

The National Basketball Players Association also put out a statement this week echoing the NBA’s original comments. The NBPA also did not mention Irving by name; Irving is a vice president of the union and a member of its executive committee.

Asked what in the film he disagreed with, Irving responded: “I think some of the criticism of the Jewish faith and the community for sure. Some points made in there that were unfortunate.”

During his first comments since a combative press conference on Sunday (AEDT) in which he defended his right to post, Irving was asked specifically about his beliefs regarding the Holocaust.

“Those falsehoods are unfortunate,” Irving said, referring to content in the film. “And it’s not that I don’t believe in the Holocaust. I never said that. Never, ever have said it. It’s not come out of my mouth. I never tweeted it. I never liked anything like it. So the Holocaust in itself is an event that means something to a large group of people that suffered something that could have been avoided.”

He was finally asked if he had any antisemitic beliefs.

“I cannot be anti-Semitic if I know where I come from,” Irving said.

Irving didn’t say if he had taken part in the meetings between his representatives, the Nets and the ADL. He added that he isn’t afraid to continue speaking about his beliefs.

“So I take my full responsibility again, I repeat it, for posting something on my Instagram or Twitter that may have had some unfortunate falsehoods in it,” Irving said. “But I also am a human being that’s 30 years old and I’ve been growing up in a country that’s told me that I wasn’t worth anything and I come from a slave class and I come from a people that are meant to be treated the way we’ve been treated every day.

“So I’m not here to compare anyone’s atrocities or tragic events that their families have dealt with, generations of time. I’m just here to continue to expose things that our world continues to put in darkness. I’m a light, I’m a beacon of light. It’s what I’m here to do.”

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