Nets guard Kyrie Irving, suspended since Nov. 3, said in a television interview published Saturday that he wanted to “deeply apologize” for posting a link to an anti-Semitic film.
“I’m not anti-Semitic,” Irving told local New York news outlet SNY in his first long interview since his suspension from the team. “I never was. I have no hatred in my heart for Jewish people or anyone who identifies as Jewish. I’m not anti-Jewish or anything.
Irving, who spoke via video conference, addressed his absence from basketball and the widespread criticism of his behavior after his Twitter post, saying he now understands “the power of my voice, the influence I have”.
“I’m not anyone’s idol, but I’m a human being who wants to make an impact and change. To do that, I have to live responsibly and set a better example for our young people, my generation and the world. older generation,” he said. “So I just think I really want to focus on the harm that I’ve caused or the impact that I’ve had within the Jewish community.”
On Oct. 27, Irving posted a link on Twitter to a 2018 film titled “Hebrew to Negroes: Wake Up Black America,” a film driven by anti-Semitic tropes, including false claims about the Holocaust. The tweet was eventually deleted.
In several combative press conferences with reporters, Irving refused to apologize for posting the video and to directly say whether he held anti-Semitic views, sparking widespread outrage and criticism within and beyond the media. NBA circles. He also said during one such appearance that he believed in a “new world order” conspiracy theory pushed by Infowars broadcaster Alex Jones.
In the interview video released Saturday, Irving was asked about his views on Jews, but not about Jones or his suspension — and potential return — to the sport.
Shortly after the interview was published, the Nets upgraded Irving’s status to “doubtful” for Sunday’s game, which is a designation typically given to a player returning from an injury whose status has not yet been finalized. The Nets are expected to host the Memphis Grizzlies, and the fact that Irving was mentioned in the team’s status report could indicate that his suspension is coming to an end.
“Kyrie took ownership of his trip and had conversations with several members of the Jewish community,” the Nets said in a statement. “We are delighted that he is approaching the process in a meaningful way.”
Since the suspension, Irving, 30, has lost a shoe contract with Nike and his future with the Nets has been in doubt. He apologized in an Instagram post after the suspension was announced, but team general manager Sean Marks said on November 4 that the apology was not enough. Irving, a seven-time All-Star in the final year of his contract with the Nets, has long been one of the NBA’s most controversial players while also being one of its most talented guards. In the past, he has publicly doctored other false conspiracy theories, such as flat Earth. Last season, he became a cause celeb for those who oppose government vaccination mandates when he refused to take a coronavirus shot, which kept Irving out of most home games in Last year.
NBA commissioner Adam Silver said in a November 10 interview with The Times that he did not believe Irving was anti-Semitic. Irving has missed eight games so far.
Irving described his time away from the franchise as “a learning journey” and that “there were a lot of wounds that needed to be healed”. He also said he did “a lot of thinking.”
“I had the chance to do it with some great people from the Jewish community, from the black community, you know, from the white community,” Irving said. “I’ve had so many conversations with all of our races, cultures, and religious groups of people just trying to improve my perspective on how we live a more harmonious life.”
Irving did not specify who he specifically had conversations with, but said he was a “man of peace.”
“I don’t tolerate any hate speech or prejudice, and I don’t want to be in a position where I’m misunderstood about where I stand in terms of anti-Semitism or hate for that matter, for anyone in this world,” said Irving. “So the process over the last few weeks has been just a lot of conversations. I don’t want to go into too much detail about those conversations, but they were very moving, very impactful. And it helped me to become more aware of the repair that needed to be done.”
Asked if he intended to tweet the link to the video, Irving said he “meant no harm”.
“I wanted to share the connection with everyone who was also on the same journey of finding their heritage as I was,” Irving said. “The unfortunate side of this three-hour documentary is the anti-Semitic remarks. You know, in terms of generalizing about Jewish people, I think that was unfair and that wasn’t the aspect of the message that I wanted to emphasize.
He added: “It was just a message. That wasn’t a context I would put in there.
Irving also cited his past in West Orange, NJ, which he described as a “melting pot”, as one of the reasons he did not speak out against anti-Semitism unequivocally initially.
“I grew up with Jews,” Irving said. “I grew up around, you know, different white people who identified as their own heritage. And I identified myself as my own heritage. And, you know, in all of this, as a kid, I really understood early on that we really are rightfully a human race and it’s our job as human beings to protect each other. .
He added: “Overall, I felt like I was protecting my character. And I reacted out of, you know, just outright defense and I’m just hurt that I might be tagged or I thought that I was labeled as anti-Semitic or anti-Jewish, and I felt like it was so disrespectful to ask me if I was anti-Semitic or not.
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