Kyrie Irving’s Suspension

Kyrie Irving is a professional basketball player for the NBA. He plays for the Brooklyn Nets, a team based out of Brooklyn, New York. He was suspended from the team recently, and Nike canceled his shoe contract. He was reprimanded for reposting a controversial Antisemitic film on his Twitter account. Antisemitic comments have been circulated recently, with Kanye West exclaiming antisemitic comments prior to Kyrie. This film Kyre reposted has been out for a few years now; it affects Jews on a broader scale now more than ever because a positive light was shed on antisemitic ideals by a well-known celebrity with widespread influence.

The video Kyrie posted was a three-hour-long film attempting to prove that the Black Hebrew Israelites believe that people of color (mainly Black Americans) are actual descendants of the biblical Israelites. The documentary also portrayed the Jews as frauds because they allegedly didn’t give the correct historical background on the Holocaust as a tactic to “conceal their nature and protect their status and power.” That was just one example out of many ways the documentary painted the Jews as the “bad guys.”

It was on Oct. 27th when he made the post. The following night, the Nets owner, Joe Tsai, responded on his own Twitter account, stating, “I’m disappointed that Kyrie appears to support a film based on a book full of antisemitic disinformation. 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.”

Kyrie finally responded to the backlash during the post-conference meeting at his game on Oct. 29th. In his interview, he didn’t give a formal apology. Instead, he explained his reasoning behind it. He exclaimed that he was interested in his Hebrew name Yahweh, and he decided to do some research on it. In this process, he stumbled across the film, which resulted in him making a post sharing the link. He then says, “We’re in 2022, history isn’t supposed to be hidden from anybody.” He also pushed the documentary’s agenda, stating, “It’s not about educating yourself on what Semitism is and what antisemitism is…and understanding that this is an African heritage that is also belonging to the people.” Even though he states those opinions, he later exclaims that he wasn’t targeting any one group. He then drops the mic, egging on the reporters for other follow-up questions.

On Nov. 2nd, he issued a formal apology stating, “I am aware of the negative impact of my post towards the Jewish community, and I take responsibility. I do not believe everything said in the documentary was true or reflects my morals or principles.” He added to the apology on November 19th speaking to SNY’s Ian Bagely saying, “I just want to apologize deeply for all my actions throughout the time that it’s been since the post was first put up. I’ve had a lot of time to think. But my focus, initially, if I could do it over, would be to heal and repair a lot of my close relationships with my Jewish relatives, brothers and sisters.” Irving made clear he is not “anti-Jewish” and apologized to the Jewish community. “I don’t have hate in my heart for the Jewish people or anyone that identifies as a Jew. I’m not anti-Jewish or any of that. And it’s been difficult to sit at home with my family, with them seeing all of this and having questions. You know, the part that’s been the hardest is explaining myself, because I know who I am, and I know what I represent.”

Kyrie Irving served an 8-game suspension and called the experience a, “ learning journey.” His reputation and finances have certainly a hit. Nike has cancelled his partnership and shoe contract which would have been worth around 11 million dollars. In a CNBC interview, Nike owner Phil Knight said, “Kyrie stepped over the line. It’s kind of that simple. He made some statements that we just can’t abide by and that’s why we ended the relationship. And I was fine with that.” Kyrie has had trouble before with fake news when he falsely claimed the earth was flat in 2018. Hopefully, everyone will use this most recent ordeal as a learning experience and fact check information before they repeat and repost it. Just because it’s on social media or the internet doesn’t make it true.