By Jacob Gurvis
In a joint statement with the Brooklyn Nets and the Anti-Defamation League Wednesday night, Kyrie Irving said he took responsibility for his tweet last week promoting an antisemitic film.
He and the Nets will each donate $500,000 “toward causes and organizations that work to eradicate hate and intolerance in our communities,” and both will work with the ADL to “develop educational programming that is inclusive and will comprehensively combat all forms of antisemitism and bigotry.”
“I am aware of the negative impact of my post towards the Jewish community and I take responsibility,” Irving said in the statement. “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.”
The Nets had announced in a press conference Tuesday that the organization was taking advice from the ADL. “We need to educate ourselves, educate the whole group and get some direction,” Nets general manager Sean Marks said. “Seek from the experts, and the experts, one of them certainly is the ADL.”
In the week since Irving’s tweet — which he later deleted without additional comment — pressure has mounted for the team or the NBA to punish the All-Star, including Tuesday night from former star Charles Barkley, who specifically called out Jewish NBA commissioner Adam Silver.
“I think Adam should have suspended him. First of all, Adam’s Jewish. You can’t take my $40 million and insult my religion,” Barkley said, referencing Irving’s contract.
Jewish fans of the Nets, meanwhile, expressed trepidation about continuing to support the team without substantive consequences for their star guard. A group sat courtside Monday donning “Fight Antisemitism” T-shirts.
In Wednesday’s statement, ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt said the partnership will enable all involved parties to “open dialogue and increase understanding.”
The Nets also said they would continue to participate in the “Shine A Light” initiative with dozens of Jewish organizations to help combat antisemitism, and will host “community conversations” at the Barclays Center in partnership with the ADL and other national civil rights organizations.
Irving has previously courted controversy by reposting a video by conspiracy theorist Alex Jones about “a cabal of elites” working to “enslave the global populace,” refusing to get a COVID-19 vaccine and claiming the Earth is flat.