The Jewish Sport Report: Why Kyrie Irving is making Jewish headlines again


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(JTA) — Hello and happy New Year! I think we’re still allowed to say that, right, Larry David?

This is sure to be an exciting year in the world of sports, from the Pan American Maccabi Games this week to the Paris Olympics this summer and beyond. What sports happenings are you most looking forward to in 2024? Let us know by dropping us a line at!

Chabad rabbis in Utah brought Jewish pride signs to an NBA game. Kyrie Irving (allegedly) didn’t appreciate it.

Kyrie Irving

Kyrie Irving speaks during a postgame press conference, Jan. 1, 2024. (Screenshot from YouTube)

Rabbi Avremi Zippel, who works at the Chabad Hasidic movement’s Salt Lake City outpost, is a big Utah Jazz fan. When the Dallas Mavericks and their controversial star Kyrie Irving came to town on Monday, Zippel wanted to be there.

Zippel and three other rabbis — including his brother and father — brought signs reading “I’m a Jew and I’m proud” to the game, where they sat courtside.

When Irving saw the signs, according to Zippel, he pointed out his Star of David tattoo and told the rabbis he was Jewish, too. But then a few minutes later, arena security told the group they had to remove the signs, citing a complaint from Irving.

Irving disputes that any of this happened. Zippel told me Irving’s denial is “a lie.” The Jazz issued a statement saying the issue was “the disruptive interaction caused by usage of the signs, not the content of the signs.” When reached by JTA, the Mavericks declined to comment.

Read about the whole saga here.

Halftime report

NOT A GAME. Police in Argentina arrested three men on suspicion of planning a terror attack amid the Maccabi Games, which have brought more than 4,000 Jewish athletes to Buenos Aires. Argentine President Javier Milei spoke at the tournament’s opening ceremony last week.

BRONX → QUEENS. Jewish outfielder and defensive whiz Harrison Bader has signed a one-year, $10.5 million contract with the New York Mets. Bader, who had committed to playing for Team Israel in the 2023 World Baseball Classic before an injury derailed his plans, joins the Mets after spending most of the last two seasons with the Yankees.

A PIECE OF PEACE. A new mural was painted this week in Brooklyn depicting an Israeli and a Palestinian boy with their arms wrapped around each other, accompanied by the message, “Love’s resilience can rebuild bridges that war has burned.” They’re dressed in the soccer jerseys of global stars Lionel Messi and Christiano Ronaldo, whose numbers are 10 and 7 — an unintended reference to Oct. 7.

DRINK RESPONSIBLY. Carolina Panthers owner David Tepper was fined $300,000 this week after he was caught on camera throwing his drink on fans at last week’s game between the Panthers and the Jacksonville Jaguars. Tepper, whose net worth is north of $20 billion, said he regretted his actions and accepted the league’s disciplinary measure.

Jews in sports to watch this weekend


Deni Avdija, who turned 23 on Wednesday, and his Washington Wizards face the Cleveland Cavaliers Friday at 7:30 p.m. ET, and host the New York Knicks Saturday at 7 p.m. ET. Domantas Sabonis, who is converting to Judaism, and the Sacramento Kings host the Toronto Raptors tonight at 10 p.m. ET, and the New Orleans Pelicans Sunday at 6 p.m. ET. In the G League, Ryan Turell and the Motor City Cruise play the Texas Legends tomorrow at 8:30 p.m. ET, while Amari Bailey and the Greensboro Swarm take on the Wisconsin Herd today and tomorrow, both at 8 p.m. ET. Despite Bailey’s 27 points, Turell and the Cruise defeated the Swarm 127-109 on Tuesday.


Jack and Luke Hughes and the New Jersey Devils host Cole Guttman and the Chicago Blackhawks tonight at 7 p.m. ET. Tomorrow at the same time, in a repeat of last month’s so-called “Hughes Bowl,” the Devils face Quinn Hughes and his Vancouver Canucks. Jack and Quinn were just named All-Stars for this season. Saturday at 10 p.m. ET, Zach Hyman and the Edmonton Oilers host Jakob Chychrun and the Ottawa Senators.


It’s the final week of the NFL regular season, and it’s coming down to the wire. Michael Dunn’s Cleveland Browns have clinched a playoff berth, while A.J. Dillon’s Green Bay Packers, Greg Joseph’s Minnesota Vikings and Jake Curhan’s Seattle Seahawks are all fighting to make the postseason. Sunday at 1 p.m. ET, the Vikings play the Detroit Lions and the Browns play the Cincinnati Bengals. Sunday at 4:25 p.m. ET, the Packers host the Chicago Bears while the Seahawks take on the Arizona Cardinals.


Goalkeeper Matt Turner and his Premier League club Nottingham Forest face Blackpool F.C. Sunday at 9 a.m. ET in the third round of the annual British FA Cup tournament. Blackpool play in the third tier of English football.

New year, new sports league

The Professional Women’s Hockey League officially launched its inaugural season this week with six teams: Boston, Minnesota, Montreal, New York, Ottawa and Toronto. The league has two known Jewish players: goaltenders Aerin Frankel, 24, who plays for Boston, and Abigail Levy, 23, who plays for New York

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