Kyrie Irving refused to apologize for posting a link to anti-semitic material on Thursday and the Brooklyn Nets star will meet with disappointed NBA commissioner Adam Silver about the controversy in the next week.
Silver pushed for an apology from Irving and denouncing of the anti-semitic content in a film the Nets playmaker boosted on social media, but Irving stopped short of both in a news conference later, saying only that he took responsibility for the post.
“I don’t know how the label becomes justified,” Irving said. “Just because I post a documentary (link) doesn’t mean I’m anti-semitic. It doesn’t mean I’m automatically standing with everyone that is believing in that.
“I cannot be anti-semitic if I know where I come from.”
A day earlier, Irving announced he will make a $500,000 donation to groups working to eradicate hate and admitted the film involved had a “negative impact” on the Jewish community.
Irving ignited a firestorm of controversy last week after posting a social media link to “Hebrews to Negroes: Wake Up Black America” — a 2018 film widely lambasted for containing a range of anti-semitic tropes that was criticized by, among others, Nets owner Joe Tsai.
Silver was pleased with Irving’s donation and statement but sought more.
“Kyrie Irving made a reckless decision to post a link to a film containing deeply offensive antisemitic material,” Silver said in a statement.
“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 chose to publicize.
“I will be meeting with Kyrie in person in the next week to discuss this situation.”
Asked if he was sorry on Thursday after Silver’s statement, Irving replied, “I take my responsibility for posting that.
“Some things that were questionable in there, untrue… I didn’t mean to cause any harm. I’m not the one that made the documentary.”
Pressed on what he saw as incorrect in the movie, Irving said, “Some of the criticism of the Jewish faith and the community, for sure,” and described Holocaust denial as a “falsehood.”
In a joint statement with the Nets and the Anti-Defamation League, Irving said his contribution will help create educational programs to fight bigotry and anti-semitism.
“I oppose all forms of hatred and oppression and stand strong with communities that are marginalized and impacted every day,” Irving said in the statement.
In comments to the media, Irving stressed taking responsibility for his posting, not the film’s falsehoods.
“The fact this has pitted me against the Jewish community and I’m here answering questions on whether or not I’m sorry or not on something I didn’t create — it was something I shared and I’m telling everybody I’m taking responsibility — then that’s where I sit,” Irving said.
“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 so proud of my heritage and what we’ve been though.”
– ‘Beacon of light’ –
Irving missed much of last season over his refusal to be vaccinated against Covid-19, calling vaccine mandates a human rights violation.
Irving, who once caused a flap by suggesting he believes the Earth is flat, spoke about Black history and slavery as well, calling himself a “beacon of light” in darkness.
“I’ve been growing up in a country that told me I wasn’t worth anything and I came from a slave class,” Irving said.
“So I’m not here to compare anyone’s atrocities or tragic events that their families have dealt with for generations of time.
“I’m just here to continue to expose things that our world continues to put in darkness. I’m a beacon of light. That’s what I’m here to do.”