Kyrie Irving has spent the past week refusing to apologize for tweeting out a link to an antisemitic movie, growing increasingly defiant and defensive in press conferences when asked about it.
Irving and the Nets released a joint statement in which he said he took responsibility for the impact of his tweet, but the star still refused to issue an apology to the Jewish community, leading Adam Silver to criticize his statement and saying he will meet with Irving to discuss the situation. On Thursday, Irving again met with the media and was asked, point blank, if he had antisemitic beliefs, to which he refused to issue a direct answer. That was apparently the final straw for the Nets, as the team announced on Thursday night that Irving was being suspended for “at least five games” for continuing to refuse to “disavow antisemitism when given a clear opportunity,” and noting that he was “unfit to be associated with the Brooklyn Nets.”
Nets statement pic.twitter.com/8movfKNRdT
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) November 3, 2022
The Nets note in the statement that they hoped to educate Irving on why his tweet was so harmful but to this point he has refused to engage in those conversations — most notably sending representatives to meet with the Anti-Defamation League rather than meeting with them himself. As such, Irving will now sit out games without pay until he meets “a series of objective remedial measures that address the harmful impact of his conduct.”
UPDATE: It seems the message from the Nets’ suspension resonated with Irving, who posted his first actual apology in a week on Instagram.
Kyrie Irving apologies on IG: “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.” pic.twitter.com/9RrqpDAVzD
— Chris Haynes (@ChrisBHaynes) November 4, 2022
While a step in the right direction, it’s notable that this comes in writing after being suspended and facing the potential loss of his salary, and also after multiple opportunities to actually say this in person when asked questions about it — specifically earlier on Thursday when he refused to say, point blank, that he didn’t share antisemitic beliefs shown in the documentary. The part about how he didn’t lay out what he did and didn’t agree with specifically is particularly eyebrow raising, as he still hasn’t done that but indicates he did agree with certain things.
We’ll find out in due time how much more the Nets require of Irving to return to the floor, but he will stay away from the team for five games at least despite this late apology.