This is a developing story. Catch up on all our coverage of the Kyrie Irving controversy here.
As sales of antisemitic film promoted by Kyrie Irving skyrocket, Amazon comes under pressure to remove it
Nov. 7, 4:15 p.m. — Jewish groups are urging Amazon to remove the antisemitic film that Kyrie Irving promoted on social media, as it continues to climb the e-commerce giant’s best-seller charts.
“The book and the film are designed to inflame hatred and, now that it was popularized by Mr. Irving, will lead directly to the harm of Jews,” the Anti-Defamation League wrote in a letter to Amazon.
Amar’e Stoudemire defends Black Hebrew Israelites amid Kyrie Irving and Kanye West antisemitism controversies
Nov. 7, 2:25 p.m. — Amar’e Stoudemire, the former NBA star who converted to Judaism in 2020, defended Black Hebrew Israelites in a video posted to his Instagram over the weekend in the wake of the Kyrie Irving controversy.
“I would never ask Kyrie to apologize for being an Israelite, are you kidding me?” Stoudemire said in the video, which is no longer on his page. “I dedicated about 20-plus years of my life on researching and learning who we are as a people.”
Irving had invoked Black Hebrew Israelite tropes when he said he could not be antisemitic “if I know where I come from.” The antisemitic film Irving shared on Twitter also echoed a variety of Israelite beliefs.
Brooklyn Nets outline steps for Kyrie Irving’s reinstatement, including meeting with Jewish leaders
Nov. 6, 8:40 p.m. — The Brooklyn Nets have outlined six steps their suspended star Kyrie Irving must take in order for his suspension to end.
According to NBA reporter Shams Charania, Irving’s requirements include a previously promised $500,000 donation to anti-hate causes, “antisemitic training” and meeting with the Anti-Defamation League and Jewish leaders.
The Nets announced on Nov. 1 that the ADL was advising the organization on the controversy. After Irving initially refused to apologize for promoting an antisemitic film on Twitter, Jonathan Greenblatt, the group’s CEO, applauded the suspension and said the ADL would not accept his donation.
The Nets had suspended Irving Thursday night for at least five games for his “failure to disavow antisemitism when given a clear opportunity to do so.”
Deni Avdija, NBA’s most prominent Jewish player, says he agrees with Kyrie Irving suspension
Nov. 5, 6:05 p.m. — Deni Avdija, who is the NBA’s only current Israeli player and has proudly touted his Jewish identity over his first two seasons in the league, told reporters he agreed with the Brooklyn Nets’ decision to suspend Kyrie Irving over his antisemitism controversy.
“I think people look up to him,” Avdija said when asked about it in the locker room following a game between the Nets and his Washington Wizards on Friday night. “You can think whatever you want, you can do whatever you want. Just, I don’t think it’s right to go out in public and publish it and let little kids that follow you see it, and the generations that come after to think like that, because it’s not true, and I don’t think it’s fair.”
“I’m Jewish, and I love my culture, I love my country,” he added. “It’s a little upsetting to hear some stuff about your religion. Just spread love, man. Love everybody, love all cultures.”
Few NBA players have commented on the controversy, which involved Irving promoting an antisemitic film on Twitter. Irving’s teammate and close friend Kevin Durant said Friday that the situation was “unfortunate,” and he “felt like we could have just kept playing basketball and kept quiet as an organization.” He later clarified in a tweet: “I don’t condone hate speech or anti-semetism[sic].”
LeBron James, arguably the league’s most well-known player and one of the most popular athletes in the world, spoke out about the situation on Friday, saying the incident “caused some harm to a lot of people.”
“If you are promoting or soliciting or saying harmful things to any community that harm people, then I don’t respect it,” he said after a game between his Los Angeles Lakers and the Utah Jazz. “I don’t condone it.”
Nike suspends relationship with Kyrie Irving, saying ‘we condemn any form of antisemitism’
Nov. 4, 4:18 p.m. — JewBelong, a nonprofit organization that uses provocative advertising to spread awareness and combat antisemitism, said in a statement Friday that it would “happily” accept Kyrie Irving’s $500,000 donation that the Anti-Defamation League has rejected.
“Taking money born of antisemitism and using it to literally combat antisemitism. There is something beautiful in that!” said JewBelong CEO Archie Gottesman.
The group noted that such a donation would make Irving one of JewBelong’s top five donors.
“Standing on ceremony about whether or not Kyrie Irving is really sorry is not a luxury that Jews have right now,” Gottesman added. “Antisemitism has increased 34% from 2020 to 2021. Instead of just worrying or keeping quiet, JewBelong thinks this rise in hate is big news. If Irving’s support will help that happen, so be it.”
Kyrie Irving apologizes for causing ‘pain’ for ‘Jewish families and Communities’
Nov. 4, 9:13 a.m. — Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving posted an apology to his Instagram late Thursday night, hours after being suspended without pay for at least five games for failing to condemn antisemitism.
“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,” Irving wrote in the post.
“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,” Irving continued. He acknowledged that he shared the film without clarifying which parts he agreed with and which he did not, such as Holocaust denial. Irving said he had “no intentions to disrespect any Jewish cultural history regarding the Holocaust.”
ADL refuses Irving’s donation, applauds his suspension
Nov. 3, 9:04 p.m. — Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, which has been advising the Brooklyn Nets through the Kyrie Irving controversy, applauded the team’s decision to suspend Irving and said his organization would not be accepting a donation from the NBA star.
“Good for @BrooklynNets. @KyrieIrving has been given ample opportunity to do the right thing, apologize and condemn #antisemitism,” Greenblatt tweeted. “He has failed at almost every step along the way. This suspension is well-deserved.”
Irving had announced Wednesday that he and the Nets would each be donating $500,000 to anti-hate groups; Greenblatt said Thursday night that the ADL will not be accepting Irving’s donation, adding, “it’s clear that Kyrie feels no accountability for his actions.” It’s unclear how much of Irving’s $500,000 pledge was slated to go to the ADL.
Brooklyn Nets suspend Kyrie Irving for failing to condemn antisemitism
Nov. 3, 8:29 p.m. — The Brooklyn Nets suspended star Kyrie Irving Thursday night, hours after the All-Star said he “cannot be antisemitic” despite promoting an antisemitic film on Twitter last week.
The NBA team had hoped to resolve the episode by “taking the path of education,” it wrote in a statement, but said Irving failed to adequately apologize for the tweet and denounce antisemitism, despite multiple opportunities.
“Such failure to disavow antisemitism when given a clear opportunity to do so is deeply disturbing, is against the values of our organization, and constitutes conduct detrimental to the team,” the Nets’ statement read. “Accordingly, we are of the view that he is currently unfit to be associated with the Brooklyn Nets. We have decided that Kyrie will serve a suspension without pay until he satisfies a series of objective remedial measures that address the harmful impact of his conduct and the suspension period served is no less than five games.”
When asked if he’s antisemitic, Kyrie Irving said ‘I cannot be’
Thursday, Nov. 3 — Less than a day after agreeing to donate $500,000 to anti-hate groups, Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving would not directly answer “yes” or “no” when asked if he holds antisemitic beliefs.
“I cannot be antisemitic if I know where I come from,” Irving said Thursday after being pressed on the issue by reporters.
“I respect all walks of life and embrace all walks of life. That’s where I sit,” he also said.
His comments appear to allude to the theory that Black Americans are the “real” Jews, a belief that is core to Black Hebrew Israelite doctrine and is central to the film Irving promoted in a tweet last week. Irving added that he doesn’t agree with everything that is said in the documentary, calling some of its content, including Holocaust denial, “unfortunate falsehoods.”
In a statement issued jointly with the Anti-Defamation League and the Nets on Wednesday, Irving said he took responsibility for his tweet and pledged, along with the Nets, to donate $500,000 to “causes and organizations that work to eradicate hate.” The Nets had also announced Tuesday that they were taking advice from the ADL.
But ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt shared footage of Irving’s comments from Thursday, writing on Twitter: “The answer to the question ‘Do you have any antisemitic beliefs’ is always ‘NO’ without equivocation. We took @KyrieIrving at his word when he said he took responsibility, but today he did not make good on that promise. Kyrie clearly has a lot of work to do.”
Irving was also asked whether he had met personally with the ADL and again declined to directly answer. “I was informed that they wanted to have a meeting, and we handled it,” he said. Greenblatt told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency earlier this week that he is “optimistic that we will be in direct discussions with Kyrie in the very near future.”
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, who is Jewish, offered his strongest reaction yet to the episode on Thursday, before video of Irving’s latest comments circulated.
“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 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.”
Silver’s comments came after many across sports urged him, the NBA and the Nets to punish Irving for his actions. Former NBA star and TV analyst Charles Barkley, who has a Jewish son-in-law, called Silver out specifically.
“I think Adam should have suspended him. First of all, Adam’s Jewish. You can’t take my $40 million and insult my religion,” Barkley said Tuesday, referencing Irving’s contract.