Nets suspend Kyrie Irving at least five games without pay

NEW YORK — The Brooklyn Nets suspended Kyrie Irving for at least five games without pay on Thursday, upset by his repeated failure to “state unequivocally that he does not have anti-Semitic beliefs.”

Hours after NBA commissioner Adam Silver refused to apologize for posting a link to an anti-Semitic piece on his Twitter feed, the Nets said Irving is “currently ineligible to be associated with the Brooklyn Nets.”

“When given the opportunity during today’s press session, we were disappointed that Kyrie refused to say he has no anti-Semitic beliefs or to acknowledge the specific hateful content of the film. This is not the first time he has had the opportunity — but failed — to explain,” the Nets said in a statement. said while issuing.

“Such a failure to reject anti-Semitism when given a clear opportunity is contrary to the values ​​of our organization and works to the detriment of the team. Accordingly, we believe he is currently unfit to join the Brooklyn Nets.”

The Nets said they made various efforts in recent days to help Irving understand the harm and danger of his words and actions, but it was clear little had changed in the point guard’s interview after Thursday’s pre-practice.

Irving again refused to apologize, saying he meant no harm. He said some things in “Hebrews to Negroes: Wake Up Black America” ​​were false, but he didn’t say he shouldn’t post a link to it.

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“I didn’t make the documentary,” Irwin said.

He was later asked if he had anti-Semitic beliefs, to which he said no.

“I can’t be anti-Semitic if I know where I’m coming from,” Irwin said.

Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt responded to a video of Irving’s response to that question on Twitter: “The answer to the question ‘do you have any anti-Semitic beliefs’ is always “no.”

“We took @KyrieIrving at his word when he said he would take responsibility, but today he didn’t keep that promise,” Greenblatt added. “Kyrie obviously has a lot of work to do.”

A day earlier, Irving and the Nets, along with the ADL, had announced a $500,000 donation to anti-hate causes.

After the Nets announced Irving’s suspension, Greenblatt tweeted: “We were optimistic but after watching the debacle in a press conference, it’s clear Kyrie doesn’t feel accountable for his actions. The @ADL cannot in good conscience accept his sacrifice.”

Silver called for accountability from Irving earlier Thursday.

“While we appreciate his agreement to work with the Brooklyn Nets and the Anti-Defamation League to combat anti-Semitism and other discrimination, I am disappointed that he has not offered an unqualified apology and more specifically condemned the vile and harmful content. The film contained the selection,” Commissioner Irving said in a statement released minutes before speaking.

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Silver said in the statement that he will meet with Irving in person in the coming week.

It’s the second straight season the Nets have sent Irving off the team. When he refused to be vaccinated against COVID-19 last year, he was ineligible to play home games. They finally brought him in for road games in December.

Irving posted the since-deleted link late last week, defiantly defending his right to do so after the Nets’ home loss to Indiana on Saturday. He asked the team not to talk to reporters after their two games this week, hoping to avoid further fanfare, but time hasn’t changed Irving’s stance.

He quickly grew defensive on Thursday, asking reporters why he wasn’t questioning the history of black people in America, saying 300 million of his ancestors were buried in the country.

“When I was a kid learning about the traumatic events in my family history and what I’m proud of coming and proud to be here, where did you ask the same questions,” Irwin said, “Why am I doing it over and over again? I’m not going to get up, It has nothing to do with eliminating any other race or group.

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“I’m proud of my heritage and what we’ve been through and this pits me against the Jewish community and I’m here to answer questions about whether or not I’m sorry for something I did. It was something I created and shared, and I Everyone is told that I take responsibility, rather than where I sit.”

Irving was also specifically asked about his beliefs regarding the Holocaust.

“Those falsehoods are unfortunate,” Irving said, referring to the film’s content. “And I don’t believe in the holocaust. I never said that. Never, never said that. It never came out of my mouth. I never tweeted. I never liked anything like that. So the holocaust could have prevented it. An event that means something to a large number of people who have suffered something.”

The Nets said Irving’s suspension will last “until he satisfies a series of objective remedial measures that address the harmful impact of his conduct.”

The team declined to offer him a contract extension this summer after he was unavailable for much of last season. Irving opted out of the final season of his contract, making it his final season with the team.

The Nets are off to a 2-6 start, and coach Steve Nash will lose his job on Tuesday.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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