A dark cloud of drama continues to linger over the Brooklyn Nets franchise and once again, Kyrie Irving finds himself at the forefront of conversations pertaining to this franchise.
Last season, Irving found himself in the news due to his stance on the COVID-19 vaccine and as a result, he was deemed ineligible to play for a vast majority of the 2021-22 season. Now, Irving has been suspended indefinitely by the team stemming from a shared post on Twitter that promoted an antisemitic film and book called “Hebrews to Negroes: Wake Up Black America.”
After backing up his decision to share the content on his social media account, the Nets made their decision to suspend Kyrie Irving for at least five games. This suspension can and very likely will carry on indefinitely until Irving fulfills the needs his franchise has laid out for him.
According to The Athletic’s Shams Charania, the six action items he must complete in order to return include:
- Issue an apology for posting a link to the movie on Oct. 27, condemn the harmful and false content and make clear that he does not have anti-Jewish beliefs.
- Complete the anti-hate causes that Irving, the Nets and the Anti-Defamation League agreed upon in their joint release on Nov. 2 — including a $500,000 donation toward causes and organizations that work to eradicate hate and intolerance in communities.
- Complete sensitivity training created by the Nets.
- Complete antisemitic/anti-hate training designed by the Nets.
- Meet with representatives from the Anti-Defamation League, as well as Jewish community leaders in Brooklyn.
- After completing 1 to 5, meet with owner Joe Tsai and lead franchise officials and demonstrate the lessons learned and that the gravity of the harm caused in the situation is understood, and provide assurances that this type of behavior will not be repeated.
With the Nets laying out this “return to play” procedure for Irving, the National Basketball Players Association has been hard at work gathering all of the information they need to ensure Kyrie Irving is being treated fairly.
Current New Orleans Pelicans guard CJ McCollum, who is the NBPA president, spoke with The Athletic recently and made it clear that Kyrie had made a mistake and that the players are trying to move forward collectively.
“We’ve had a lot of engagement on this matter throughout the week and we feel that it’s best to step back and give thoughtful consideration before acting,” McCollum told The Athletic. “I think myself, it’s important for me to continue to gather more information, but it’s also important for me to allow the situation to continue to unfold.”
Other NBPA executive committee members spoke with The Athletic, including Pelicans veteran Garrett Temple, who stated that the player’s association condemns any antisemitism or discrimination of any kind and that Kyrie had a “proper apology” in his opinion.
“He’s been accountable for his actions,” Temple said. “At the end of the day, we’re going to let it take its course. We’re going to make sure everybody knows we don’t stand for any hate speech at all, no matter which way it goes.”
Boston Celtics All-Star Jaylen Brown, who was Kyrie Irving’s teammate for two years from 2017-2019, spoke with The Boston Globe recently and stated that the NBPA believes that the tasks assigned to Irving in order to return to the play are too stringent and that the NBPA is expected to appeal since there is no guideline that addresses social media posts in the league’s current collective bargaining agreement.
“I don’t believe Kyrie Irving is antisemitic,” Brown told The Boston Globe. “I don’t think people in our governing bodies think he’s antisemitic. He made a mistake. We understand from an outside perspective how important sensitivity is to not condone hate speech and not condone anything of that nature… We don’t want to stand up for somebody in order to not condemn hate speech, but I don’t believe Kyrie Irving is antisemitic. And hopefully the NBA feels the same way.”
According to NBA insider Marc Stein, Kyrie Irving is expected to meet with NBA commissioner Adam Silver on Tuesday morning in New York City, a meeting that could very well help clear matters up regarding how the NBA and NBPA will address this situation moving forward.
“There is an interesting distinction between what somebody says verbally and what somebody posts as a link on a platform with no description behind it,” Brown went on to say. “Some people will argue there’s no difference and some people will argue there is a difference. There’s no language in our CBA. There’s no rules against it. This is uncharted territory for everybody, and everybody is trying to figure out the difference between the two.”
Kyrie Irving’s future with the Brooklyn Nets and in the NBA is currently up-in-the-air with no timetable currently being presented for when this matter will be rectified. The Nets are currently 4-7 and they have gone 2-1 since Irving’s suspension.
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