The Fallout of Kyrie Irving’s Antisemitic Post

(Dustin Satloff/Getty Images North America/Getty Images)

Staff Writer: Shailyn Bacchiocchi

Email: sbacchiocchi@umassd.edu

Kyrie Irving’s career has taken some hits this week after previously coming under fire in the media for tweeting a link to an antisemitic film last month.

Not only has he been suspended by the Nets for at least five games, but Nike has since announced they have cut ties with Irving.

Last month on October 27th, Irving tweeted a link to a 2018 documentary titled, “Hebrews to Negroes: Wake Up Black America,” He also posted a screenshot of the documentary on Instagram. People were quick to point out the blatant antisemitism within the film, which includes many falsehoods such as suggestions that the Holocaust did not happen.

Kyrie originally doubled down on his tweet, stating “History is not supposed to be hidden from anybody,” He also tweeted that he was an “omnist” and that “the ‘Anti-Semitic’ label that is being pushed on me is not justified and does not reflect the reality or truth I live in everyday,” Irving then deleted the original link, but did not apologize until after it was announced he would be suspended.

In the week before the suspension, the NBA and its players union, as well as Nets owner Joe Tsai, all made statements condemning antisemitism. 

It was only after a post-practice media conference on November 3rd that Irving was suspended. Within this conference, Irving was asked whether or not he held antisemitic beliefs. Irving refused to say no, simply stating, 

“I cannot be antisemitic if I know where I come from.”

Irving spoke to reporters for a mere six minutes before the Net’s Public Relations team ended the conference. This conference on Thursday came less than an hour after N.B.A. Commissioner Adam Silver said he planned to meet with Irving, and after stating he was disappointed that Irving “ has not offered an unqualified apology and more specifically denounced the vile and harmful content contained in the film he chose to publicize.”

After the conference, the Nets expressed their disappointment and, after almost a week after the original tweets by Irving, suspended him indefinitely.

“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,” part of the statement reads.

The statement then goes on to announce his suspension and states he will be suspended for no less than five games until he “he satisfies a series of objective remedial measures that address the harmful impact of his conduct-“

These “remedial measures” are a series of steps Irving must complete, including but not limited to completing sensitivity/antisemitic/anti-hate training designed by the nets.

Irving subsequently apologized on Instagram, part of his statement reading “To All Jewish families and Communities that are hurt and affected from my post, I am deeply sorry to have caused you pain, and I apologize.”

The apology came a little too late for companies like Nike, though, who announced on Friday night that they would no longer be launching Irving’s new shoe, the Kyrie 8.

“At Nike, we believe there is no place for hate speech and we condemn any form of antisemitism,” Nike said to NPR, “To that end, we’ve made the decision to suspend our relationship with Kyrie Irving effective immediately and will no longer launch the Kyrie 8. We are deeply saddened and disappointed by the situation and its impact on everyone.”

Irving is not the only person who has caused companies and celebrities to condemn antisemitism in the past few weeks.

Kanye West has repeatedly come under fire for his antisemitic posts, causing an ever-growing backlash against the rapper and also causing him to be dropped by multiple companies including Balenciaga, Vouge, and his own agency.

The earliest Irving would be able to return after the five-game suspension Is November 13th against the Los Angelos Lakers, but it is unclear how many of the mandated steps he has completed, and if he will be returning at all. 

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