Nets guard Kyrie Irving has faced backlash since sharing an Amazon link to an antisemitic documentary via Twitter.
In response to the content of Irving’s tweet, various journalists have highlighted the problematic nature of the work that he shared, prompting responses from Nike, Nets owner Joe Tsai, the Nets organization as well as the NBA.
Irving, who has denied that sharing the film equates to promoting its content, has attempted to clarify his standing while denying antisemitism, though he has not offered a formal apology. After Brooklyn’s most recent game, Irving was not made available to the media.
From Irving’s statements to the film itself and the ensuing responses, here is a summation of recent events.
MORE: Why did the Nets fire Steve Nash?
On Thursday, Oct. 27, Irving tweeted an Amazon link to a 2018 movie titled “Hebrews to Negroes: Wake Up Black America.” The film is based on a book of the same name, both of which have been described by Rolling Stone as being “stuffed with antisemitic tropes.”
The tweet containing the link, which Irving provided without context, has since been deleted.
Irving returned to Twitter on Saturday, Oct. 29, seemingly to address the response to the film he shared in his original tweet. Within his statement, Irving stated that he is an Omnist and “meant no disrespect to anyone’s religious beliefs.”
I am an OMNIST and I meant no disrespect to anyone’s religious beliefs. 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. I embrace and want to learn from all walks of life and religions.
MORE: Nets condemn Kyrie Irving promotion of antisemitic documentary
Merriam-Webster defines an Omnist is defined as someone that believes in all religions. Per the Oxford English Dictionary, an Omnist believes “in a single transcendent purpose or cause uniting all things or people”
MORE: Fans sitting courtside at Nets game wear ‘Fight Antisemitism’ shirts amid Kyrie Irving backlash
“Hebrews to Negroes: Wake Up Black America” is a 2018 movie directed, narrated and produced by Ronald Dalton Jr. You can learn more about Dalton by reading his IMDb mini biography.
Here is the Amazon product description for the documentary, which has a runtime of over three hours:
The Movie “Hebrews to Negroes: Wake Up Black America” uncovers the true identity of the Children of Israel by proving the true ethnicity of Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob, the Sons of Ham, Shem & Japheth. Find out what Islam, Judaism and Christianity has covered up for centuries in regards to the true biblical identity of the so-called “Negro” in this movie packed with tons of research.
In response to Irving’s tweet that shared the film, Jon Blistein of Rolling Stone outlines the film’s contents, including the various antisemitic tropes that are present throughout the documentary. Blistein mentions that “the book also quotes the infamous antisemitic hoax, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.”
USA Today columnist Dan Wolken called Irving’s decision to share a link to the film “a grenade thrown directly onto the wave of antisemitic attacks on Jews that have been smoldering across the country lately.” Wolken, too, outlines the contents of the documentary, which includes a fabricated quote from Adolph (sic) Hitler.
ESPN’s Pablo Torre, who also watched the film, tweeted a screen capture of the fake Hitler quote that is referenced by Wolken. Torre also shared an excerpt from the book of the same name. In the excerpt, Dalton calls the death toll from the Holocaust one of “five major falsehoods.”
According to The Athletic’s Shams Charania, Irving must complete six steps in order to return to the Nets, beginning with a formal apology and condemnation of “Hebrews to Negroes” followed by a $500,000 donation to anti-hate causes.
Sources: Nets have delivered Kyrie Irving six items he must complete to return to team:
– Apologize/condemn movie
– $500K donation to anti-hate causes
– Sensitivity training
– Antisemitic training
– Meet with ADL, Jewish leaders
– Meet with Joe Tsai to demonstrate understanding
On Friday, Nov. 4, Nike followed its initial statement condemning antisemitism by announcing that the brand would be suspending its relationship with Irving effective immediately. The brand will not release Irving’s forthcoming signature shoe, the “Kyrie 8.”
At Nike, we believe there is no place for hate speech and we condemn any form of antisemitism. 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.
Hours after he was handed a suspension, Irving took to Instagram to apologize for his actions in the caption of a blank photo. A portion of his apology can be found below:
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. I initially reacted out of emotion to being unjustly labeled Anti-Semitic, instead of focusing on the healing process of my Jewish Brothers and Sisters that were hurt from the hateful remarks made in the Documentary. I want to clarify any confusion on where I stand fighting against (Anti-Semitism) by apologizing for posting the documentary without context and a factual explanation outlining the specific beliefs in the Documentary I agreed with and disagreed with.
Late Thursday, Nov. 3, the Nets announced that Irving would be suspended without pay for a period of “no less than five games.” Here is more from the Nets on Irving’s suspension.
Over the last several days, we have made repeated attempts to work with Kyrie Irving to help him understand the harm and danger of his words and actions, whic began with him publicing a film containing deeply disturbing antisemitic hate…
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…
Such failure to disavow antisemitism when given a clear opportuntity to do so is deeply disturbing, is against the values of our organization, and constitutes conduct detrimental to the team.
On Thursday, Nov. 3, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver issued the following statement regarding Irving:
Kyrie Irving made a reckless decision to post a link to a film containing deeply offensive antisemitic material. While we appreciate the fact that he agreed to work with the Brooklyn Nets and the Anti-Defamation League to combat antisemitism 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.
On Nov. 2, it was announced that Irving and the Nets organization would each donate $500,000 toward causes and organizations that work to eradicate hate and intolerance in our communities. The joint statement includes this from Irving:
I oppose all forms of hatred and oppression and stand strong with communities that are marginalized and impacted every day. 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 and principles. I am a human being learning from all walks of life and I intend to do so with an open mind and a willingness to listen. So from my family and I, we meant no harm to any one group, race or religion of people, and wish to only be a beacon of truth and light.
The National Basketball Players Association issued a statement on Nov. 1. Irving has been an NBPA Vice President since 2020.
Anti-Semitism has no place in our society. The NBPA is focused on creating an environment where everyone is accepted. We are committed to helping players fully understand that certain words can lead to hateful ideologies being spread. We will continue to work on identifying and combating all hate speech wherever it arises.
On Saturday, Oct. 29, the NBA issued a statement regarding hate speech, though no specific individuals were mentioned by name:
Hate speech of any kind is unacceptable and runs counter to the NBA’s values of equality, inclusion and respect. We believe we all have a role to play in ensuring such words or ideas, including antisemitic ones, are challenged and refuted and we will continue working with all members of the NBA community to ensure that everyone understands the impact of their words and actions.
Late on Friday, Oct. 28, Nets owner Joe Tsai took to Twitter to issue the below statement addressing Irving’s decision to share a link to the film.
I’m disappointed that Kyrie appears to support a film based on a book full of anti-semitic 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.
Tsai added that “this is bigger than basketball.”
When asked for a comment by Nets Daily, the franchise issued the following statement:
The Brooklyn Nets strongly condemn and have no tolerance for the promotion of any form of hate speech. We believe that in these situations, our first action must be open, honest dialogue. We thank those, including the ADL, who have been supportive during this time.
Since entering the league in 2011, Irving has endorsed Nike and is one of the brand’s few signature athletes. Nike offered this statement when asked about Irving:
At Nike, we believe there is no place for hate speech, and we condemn any form of antisemitism.
After the Nets’ loss to the Pacers on Oct. 29, ESPN’s Nick Friedell questioned Irving on his decision to share a video of Alex Jones to his Instagram story a few weeks ago as well as his “promotion of the movie and the book,” in reference to “Hebrews to Negroes: Wake Up Black America,” which drew Irving’s ire.
Can you please stop calling it a ‘promotion?’ What am I promoting? I’m promoting it? Do you see me in front of the title? I put it out there, just like you put things out there, right? You put things out there for a living, right? Let’s move on. Don’t dehumanize me up here. I’m another human being here. I can post whatever I want — so say that and shut it down, and move it on to the next question
Irving was not made available to the media following the Nets’ win over the Pacers on Oct. 31 nor after the team’s loss to the Bulls on Nov. 1.
On Nov. 3, Irving spoke with reporters at a media scrum following Nets practice. Irving was asked about the statement from Adam Silver and whether or not he held any antisemitic beliefs.
Again, I’m gonna repeat: I don’t know how the label becomes justified because you guys ask the same questions over and over again, but this is not gonna turn into a spin-around cycle of questions upon questions. I told you guys how I felt. I respect all walks of life and embrace all walks of life — that’s where I sit.
I cannot be antisemitic if I know where I come from.