NBA commissioner Adam Silver and Brooklyn Nets star point guard Kyrie Irving had a “direct and candid conversation” earlier this week, and he came out with the impression that Irving “no doubt” is not antisemitic.
“He’s someone I’ve known for a decade, and I’ve never heard an antisemitic word from him or, frankly, hate directed at any group,” Silver, who is Jewish, told The New York Times.
“Whether or not he is antisemitic is not relevant to the damage caused by the posting of hateful content.”
Irving received tons of backlash for posting the link to an Amazon documentary that contained antisemitic disinformation, which included the Nets suspending him at least five games and having him complete a six-step process before being considered for reinstatement.
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Nike co-founder Phil Knight also announced on Thursday that his company will no longer be working with Irving, and it’s probably done for good. Irving’s signature shoe line has been produced by Nike for years.
The Nets did not initially suspend Irving, allowing him to attempt an apology during a media availability. However, he did not publicly apologize, waiting instead to post a lengthy apology to his Instagram.
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Some believe that the Nets are going overboard now with their six-step program – LeBron James said Thursday that he believes Irving’s apology should be acceptable, and the Nets should allow him to play again – but Silver said the scrutiny delay of punishment “may be fair.”
“I feel that we got to the right outcome here in terms of his suspension,” Silver added. “And in retrospect, we may have been able to get there faster. I accept that criticism. But I felt it was important to understand the context in which it was posted to understand what discipline was appropriate, not in any way to excuse it but to understand what discipline was appropriate.”
As for the league itself, Silver said they were doing “a bit of work and research” on the link Irving posted before proceeding with any discipline or announcement.
“Once we did that investigation, it was clear to me that this was indeed hate speech and we, together with the Brooklyn Nets, did respond,” Silver said.
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Irving has missed four Nets games thus far and may return against the Los Angeles Lakers this Sunday after Brooklyn faces the Los Angeles Clippers on Saturday.
The Athletic revealed the steps Irving must undergo via the Nets’ directive before returning:
- Issue an apology for posting a link to the movie on Oct. 27, condemn the harmful and false content and make clear that he does not have anti-Jewish beliefs.
- Complete the anti-hate causes that Irving, the Nets and the Anti-Defamation League agreed upon in their joint release on Nov. 2, including a $500,000 donation toward causes and organizations that work to eradicate hate and intolerance in communities.
- Complete sensitivity training created by the Nets.
- Complete antisemitic/anti-hate training designed by the Nets.
- Meet with representatives from the Anti-Defamation League and Jewish community leaders in Brooklyn.
- After completing 1 through 5, meet with owner Joe Tsai and lead franchise officials and demonstrate the lessons learned and that the gravity of the harm caused in the situation is understood and provide assurances that this type of behavior will not be repeated.
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“We’re going to give him some time,” Nets general manager Sean Marks said Friday. “It’s up to him. Again, his actions will speak louder than words, and if he wants to participate in that, we’ll see where it goes.”