After sharing the link, Irving was victimized by the media including Brooklyn Nets owner Joe Tsai of being anti-Semitic.
Tsai reacted on Twitter writing, “I’m disappointed that Kyrie appears to support a film based on a book full of anti-Semitic disinformation. I want to sit down and make sure he understands this is hurtful to all of us, and as a man of faith, it is wrong to promote hate based on race, ethnicity or religion.” Tsai said.
“This is bigger than basketball,” he added.
Irving would address the attacks in a press conference saying, “In terms of the backlash or what people call it, we’re in 2022, history is not supposed to be hidden from anybody. And I’m not a divisive person when it comes to religion. I embrace all walks of life. You see it on all my platforms. I talk to all races, all cultures, all religions.”
“My response would be, it’s not about educating yourself on what Semitism is and what anti-Semitism is, it’s really about learning the root words of where these come from and understanding that this is an African heritage belonging to the people,” Irving stated. “Africa is in it whether we want to dismiss it or not. So the claims of anti-Semitism and who are the original Chosen people of God and we go into these religious conversations and it’s a big No-no. I don’t live my life that way,” he added.
Irving continued, “I grew up in a melting pot and I say a melting pot of all races: white, black, red yellow, Jewish, Christian, Muslim. And you can see the way I live my life now. I’m not here to be divisive so they can push their agenda — I don’t want to say they because I’m not identifying anyone one group or race of people, but I’m in a unique position to have a level of influence on my community.”
“And what I post does not mean that I support everything that’s being said or everything that’s being done or I’m campaigning for anything. All I do is post things for my people in my community and those that it’s actually going to impact. Anybody else that has criticism and obviously it wasn’t meant for them,” he declared.
He also asserted, “I’m not going to stand down on anything I believe in. I’m only going to get stronger because I’m not alone. I have a whole army around me. We’re in 2022. History is not supposed to be hidden from anybody, and I’m not a divisive person when it comes to religion.”
In a joint statement with the NBA and the Anti-Defamation League, Irving would also state, “I oppose all forms of hatred and oppression and stand strong with communities that are marginalized and impacted every day. I am aware of the negative impact of my post towards the Jewish community and I take responsibility.”
He added, “I do not believe everything said in the documentary was true or reflects my morals and principles. I am a human being learning from all walks of life and I intend to do so with an open mind and a willingness to listen. So from my family and I, we meant no harm to any one group, race or religion of people, and wish to only be a beacon of truth and light.”
He would then be directly asked by a member of the media, “Do you have any anti-Semitic beliefs?”
He answered, “Again, I’m going to repeat. I don’t know how the label becomes justified because you ask me the same questions over and over again, but this is not going to turn into a spin around cycle of questions upon questions. I told you guys how I felt. I respect all walks of life and embrace all walks of life. That’s where I sit.”
When the media pressed him for a yes or no answer, Irving replied, “I cannot be anti-Semitic if I know where I come from. I cannot be anti-Semitic if I know where I come from.”
Following this response, the Nets indefinitely suspended him.
The team’s statement began, “Over the last several days, we have made repeated attempts to work with Kyrie Irving to help him understand the harm and danger of his words and actions, which began with him publicizing a film containing deeply disturbing antisemitic hate. We believed that taking the path of education in this challenging situation would be the right one and thought that we had made progress with our joint commitment to eradicating hate and intolerance.”
It continued, “We were dismayed today, when given an opportunity in a media session, that Kyrie refused to unequivocally say he has no antisemitic beliefs, nor acknowledge specific hateful material in the film. This was not the first time he had the opportunity – but failed – to clarify.”
“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 statement asserted.
The team then announced the suspension, “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.”
Irving would then issue an apology to Instagram. He began, “While doing research on YHWH, I posted a Documentary that contained some false anti-Semitic statements, narratives, and language that were untrue and offensive to the Jewish Race/Religion, and I take full accountability and responsibly for my actions. I am grateful to have a big platform to share knowledge and I want to move forward by having an open dialogue to learn more and grow from this.”
“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,” he stated. “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.”
He went on, “I want to clarify any confusion on where I stand fighting against Anti- semticism by apologizing for posting the documentary without context and a factual explanation outlining the specific beliefs in the Documentary I agreed with and disagreed with.”
“I had no intentions to disrespect any Jewish cultural history regarding the Holocaust or perpetuate any hate,” Irving wrote. “I am learning from this unfortunate event and hope we can find understanding between us all.”
“I am no different than any other human being. I am a seeker of truth and knowledge, and I know who I Am,” he concluded.
Smith initially reacted to Irving’s apology at the beginning of November saying, “You’re watching an individual who is a phenomenal basketball player, phenomenal athlete, box office, at least once was box office in terms of his talent, could be, would be for several years. You’re watching him disintegrate before our very eyes, and it’s all because of stubbornness. It’s because of arrogance.”
He added, “Let me be very, very clear, Kyrie Irving, I believe, is not a bad person. I don’t believe he meant to hurt anyone in anyway. The problem is that the same individual that wants to have power with his words, the power to influence and affect the lives of people isn’t taking the level of responsibility of absorbing the level of responsibility that comes with it.”
Ironically, Smith said, “First of all, know what the hell you’re talking about. That’s number one. When you’re talking about your history it’s one thing for you to sit up there and remind people of things from an historical perspective as it pertains your own community: indentured servitude, slavery, Jim Crow laws, things of that nature. Because that’s what he was alluding to when he was talking about keeping that same momentum, that same intensity and energy when he was talking to the media yesterday.”
He then railed on Irving, “And as a black person we should all appreciate that element of him, but when you get in to someone else’s history and you contribute to denying what the Jewish community has endured and the kind of ridiculous theories that people try to throw out there, insinuations that the Holocaust didn’t exist, that Adolf Hitler is somebody to be celebrated, you’ve got a different problem. That’s egregious, that’s irresponsible, that’s wrong, that’s uncalled for, that’s heinous, that’s wrong on so many levels.”
“And to be lost and clueless as to how that can affect a community different than yours is one thing, but to sit back and talk about how you won’t even apologize at the time for it being anti-Semitic because you don’t deem yourself to be anti-Semitic. It’s just irresponsible. It really, really is,” he declared.
“So the suspension is warranted. There is no doubt about that. By the way it’s not just a five game suspension. It’s potentially longer. They said a minimum of five games,” he asserted.
Less than a week later, Smith was no longer railing on Irving making insinuations that he denies the Holocaust and that he celebrates Adolf Hitler because he merely shared an Amazon movie link to Twitter.
Instead he was make analogies to George Floyd in regards to Irving. Smith changed his tune while reacting to comments made by Lebron James who called the requirements Irving must go through to be reinstated.
James tweeted, “I told you guys that I don’t believe in sharing hurtful information. And I’ll continue to be that way but Kyrie apologized and he should be able to play. That’s what I think. It’s that simple. Help him learn- but he should be playing. What he’s asked to do to get back on the floor I think is excessive IMO. He’s not the person that’s being portrayed of him. Anyways back to my rehab session.”
As reported by Mediaite Smith commented, “You are emasculating this man And when you emasculate a black man, I’m going to say something about that. It is uncalled for; it is unnecessary. Black folks, we don’t get enough credit for this; we forgive people all the time. How many things have been accorded against us? How many things have been spoken about us inaccurately? How many times throughout history have we been demonized? And marginalized? And insulted? We’ve shown forgiveness; we’ve shown compassion.”
Later in the segment he stated, “We got riots that took place in the streets a couple of years ago, and I told everybody back then. I said when George Floyd had that knee on his neck, what people didn’t get outside of the black community is that black folks we going off because we were saying from a figurative perspective, from a metaphorical perspective, we always feel like we got a knee on our neck. And that’s where the frustration and the foment of vitriol and hostility, and dare I say violence came shining through.”
“And so here we are again,” he continued. “Now this doesn’t have anything to do with that in a literal perspective, but this is somebody, or a bunch of people out there trying to put their knee and keep their knee on Kyrie’s neck.”
“Kyrie does not deserve that,” he declared. “He made a mistake. He made a mistake, he had to apologize for it, he’s been embarrassed because of it, he’s cost himself money because of it, he’s been suspended because of it. But if Adam Silver, the commissioner of the NBA – who is a Jewish man – comes out publicly and acknowledges he made a mistake, he was wrong, and that he thinks the suspension and the conversations have gone a long way toward pushing this forward, the Jewish community should be able to accept that.”
In a clip shared to his Twitter, Smith also stated, “America don’t think I have not noticed what you have done. Kyrie Irving minimum five games. Ime Udoka minimum one year suspension. Usually when there is a suspension there is an end date. I’m seeing two black men that’s got the word indefinite attached to their exiles. I don’t like that. That is inconsistent with what we have customarily seen transpire in the world of sports.
“So when two brothers mess up, it’s got indefinite attached to it,” he continued. “But when it’s anybody else you got a definitive point which you are suspended or you’re fired and you’re free to go work elsewhere whatever the case may be. But in these cases you’ve got indefinite attached to them where their futures are left dangling.”
He then questioned, “What are y’all trying to say? I thought we were listening. I thought black people were gonna be heard. I thought our frustrations that came reeking through the screen and beyond was finally being absorbed and listened to with the level of sensitivity. Various communities throughout the United States just a couple of years ago said we spent decades if not centuries not paying enough attention to.”
“But suddenly this stuff happens and here we are again,” Smith said. “Let Kyrie Irving back. Let that man play. He comes back. He issues his apology. He goes back to playing basketball because that’s what you would do for anybody else.”
“As black people we need to stand up and demand you do that for Kyrie too. We ain’t supporting what he did. We are not saying he didn’t make a gross error, but forgiveness and compassion is supposed to be part of who we are. Let’s not forget that when it comes to this, brother,” he concluded.
It’s clear as day that Smith has completely changed his tune. He went from saying Irving’s indefinite suspension was justified and that Joe Tsai was merely just tolerating him because of a contract to now he’s claiming that he’s being persecuted for his skin color and the indefinite suspension is reprehensible.
This is just another example that Stephen A. Smith doesn’t have any principles. He’s merely a puppet that pushes a narrative whatever way the wind blows. He’s a coward.