Only after the Brooklyn Nets suspended him without pay and the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) refused to accept his donation did Kyrie Irving publicly apologize for endorsing an antisemitic film on Twitter.
Late on Thursday night, the NBA player posted a statement on Instagram in which he expressed his “deep regret for having caused you grief” and his desire to “learn more and grow from” the experience. The 30-year-old Nets player insisted that he still concurs with some of the viewpoints expressed in the antisemitic film.
He wrote in the post, “I take full responsibility and accountability for my acts. While researching YHWH, I posted a Documentary that featured certain erroneous anti-Semitic assertions, tales, and terminology that were wrong and disrespectful to the Jewish Race/Religion.
“I am appreciative of the large platform I have to impart knowledge, and I want to move forward by engaging in an honest conversation to learn more and develop from this.
“To any Jewish families and communities who have been injured and damaged by my tweet, I sincerely apologize for having done so.”
Before reiterating that there are some concepts in the documentary that he “agreed with and disagreed with,” Irving acknowledged that he had become defensive in response to the initial post “instead of focusing on the healing process of my Jewish Brothers and Sisters”.
“At first, I responded out of emotion to being unfairly called anti-Semitic, instead of focused on the healing process of my Jewish Brothers and Sisters who were harmed by the cruel statements expressed in the Documentary,” he stated.
“I want to clear up any misunderstanding about where I stand in the fight against anti-semitism [sic] by expressing my regret for having posted the documentary without providing any background information and by providing a factual explanation outlining the specific points in the documentary I agreed and disagreed with.
“I had no desire to spread any hate or degrade any Jewish cultural history related to the Holocaust.”
“I am learning from this sad situation and hope we can all come to an understanding,” Irving said in his closing statement. I am the same as every other human being. I am a seeker of knowledge and truth, and I am aware of who I Am.
The basketball player made his statement just hours after the Nets revealed they had suspended him for at least five games due to the scandal.
The NBA franchise released a statement in which it expressed its “dismay” at Irving’s repeated failure to use a press conference on Thursday to express regret for his detrimental conduct.
“We were shocked today when given the chance in a media conference that Kyrie failed to clearly state he has no antisemitic sentiments, nor address particular terrible stuff in the film,” the statement read.
It wasn’t the first time he had the chance to clarify, but he didn’t.
We have decided that Kyrie will serve a suspension without pay until he completes a number of objective corrective actions that address the negative effects of his behavior, and the suspension period served is no less than five games, the statement said.
The uproar started last week when Irving tweeted a link to the documentary Hebrews to Negroes: Wake Up Black America, which promotes a number of antisemitic myths and conspiracies.
The remark drew an immediate outcry, but Irving had resisted calls to apologize and condemn the comment until today.
When the Nets and the ADL issued a joint statement on Wednesday claiming that the All-Star guard had accepted responsibility for “the harmful impact” of his actions, things seemed to be looking up for the player.
The Nets and Irving both made a donation pledge of $500,000 to organizations working to “eradicate prejudice and intolerance in our communities”.
With NBA Commissioner Adam Silver criticizing Irving for failing to offer “an unreserved apology” and to “particularly repudiate the abhorrent and hurtful language contained in the film he decided to distribute,” many still felt it didn’t go far enough.
Then, in what seems to have been the deciding moment for the Nets and the ADL, Irving maintained his aggressive tone throughout Thursday’s press conference.
He was questioned by reporters during the briefing about his antisemitic sentiments and whether or not he thought the Holocaust occurred.
Irving declined to respond honestly to the inquiries and to be asked to apologize to the Jewish community.
The ADL declared that it would not accept his $500,000 donation after the Nets were suspended.
“We were optimistic, but after seeing the disaster of a news conference, it’s evident that Kyrie feels no culpability for his behavior,” the CEO of ADL said in a message on Twitter. @ADL cannot accept (the donation) in good faith.
Following a string of antisemitic comments from Kanye West earlier this month that led several large corporations to cut connections with him, the controversy over Irving’s antisemitism emerged just days later.
The comments caused the rapper to momentarily lose access to Twitter, and he commemorated his comeback by posting a picture of Irving.
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