Kyrie Irving Saga

Ryan Bobb, Staff Writer

With the NBA season at about the halfway point, there have already been a number of headlines, but the biggest one has to be the off-court issue between the league and Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving. On November 3rd the league suspended Irving for a minimum of five games without pay after he tweeted to support a movie and book by Ronald Dalton titled Hebrews to Negroes: Wake Up Black America! which is considered antisemitic. 

Following this, conflict surrounded Irving who, essentially, refused to address it. According to Tania Ganguli and Sopan Deb of The New York Times, “For a week after Irving posted the link to the film, he declined to apologize or say that he held no antisemitic beliefs, prompting the Nets on Nov. 3 to suspend him indefinitely.” 

The Nets gave Irving a checklist to complete before returning to the team. According to Shams Charania of The Athletic, that checklist consisted of an apology and a statement condemning the movie he tweeted about, a 500,000 dollar donation to anti-hate causes, completion of sensitivity and antisemitism training, meeting with Anti-Defamation League and Jewish leaders, and meeting with team owner Joe Tsai to demonstrate an understanding of the situation.

Ganguli and Deb reported that while Irving did finally apologize, he has faced continued criticism and problems, including losing important financial opportunities. They note, “On Nov. 4, Nike condemned hate and antisemitism, and suspended its relationship with Irving effective immediately.” Even with the apology, Nike still decided to terminate the contract of their highest-selling player, Irving.

Irving’s apology appeared on multiple platforms and he told SportsNet New York, “I just really want to focus on the hurt that I caused or the impact that I made within the Jewish community. Putting some type of threat, or assumed threat, on the Jewish community, I just want to apologize deeply for all my actions for 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.”

After Irving’s apology and completion of all of these tasks, he returned to play Sunday, November 20th where he tallied 14 points along with 5 rebounds in 26 minutes. Since his return, he has played 12 games (as of publication) and averaged 24 points per game.

Response to Irving’s behavior has varied with some saying he deserves more punishment and others feeling as if he should not have faced such scrutiny. One student at PB who asked to be anonymous said that they feel like the tasks were too much and dehumanizing. They added that Kyrie shouldn’t have been suspended for tweeting a link with no other words or opinion, noting that if Amazon gets no hate for having the movie on their platform why should Kyrie?

A second anonymous Paint Branch student said that the Nets did not suspend Irving long enough. This student feels that anti-semitism does not have a place in the NBA or the world and that there should have been more on the list of tasks he had to complete before he returned to the league. As we can see a lot can happen in a month, Irving is back on the court but now without a shoe deal.