NEW YORK – Kyrie Irving said on Saturday he embraces all religions, defiantly defending his right to publish what he believes after the Brooklyn Nets owner said he was disappointed that Irving appeared to support an anti-Semitic film .
“It’s 2022. History isn’t supposed to be hidden from anyone and I’m not a divisive person when it comes to religion,” Irving said in a tense post-game press conference. “I embrace all walks of life.”
Nets owner Joe Tsai said Friday he was disappointed that Irving appeared to support a film “based on a book full of anti-Semitic misinformation.” The Nets’ star guard posted a link to the movie “Hebrews to Negroes: Wake Up Black America” on Twitter on Thursday. The synopsis on Amazon says the film “uncovers the true identity of the children of Israel.”
“The organization spoke to Kyrie about it,” Nets coach Steve Nash said before their loss to Indiana, without divulging details of what it meant.
But nothing said will stop Irving from saying what he wants to share.
“I’m not going to give up anything that I believe in,” he said. “I’m only going to get stronger because I’m not alone. I have a whole army around me.
Irving said he understands Tsai’s position, but was quick to say he had done nothing wrong, adding that just because he posts something doesn’t mean he supports it. necessarily.
“Did I do something illegal? Did I hurt someone? said Irving. “Have I hurt anyone? Do I come out and say I hate a specific group of people? »
But he went far enough to get the Nets and the NBA to speak out against hate speech.
Tsai and the Nets reacted quickly to the latest issues sparked by Irving, who had previously supported the idea that the Earth was flat and last month on social media shared an old clip of conspiracy theorist Alex Jones – although Irving clarified that he had not done so. stick with Jones when it came to anything regarding the Sandy Hook shootings.
“I want to sit down and make sure he understands this hurts us all, and as a man of faith, it’s wrong to promote hatred based on race, ethnicity or religion,” he said. wrote Tsai on Twitter about Irving.
The NBA said on Saturday that “hate speech of any kind is unacceptable.”
“We believe we all have a role to play in ensuring that such words or ideas, including anti-Semitic ones, are challenged and refuted and we will continue to work with all members of the NBA community to ensure everyone understands the impact of their words and actions,” the league said.
It was unclear whether this meant the league had spoken to Irving or planned to speak to him about it.
Irving was unavailable for most Nets home games last season because he refused to get a COVID-19 shot, as was required in New York. The Nets then refused to grant him a contract extension this summer, meaning Irving could be in his last season with the team.
“The Brooklyn Nets strongly condemn and have no tolerance for the promotion of any form of hate speech,” the team said in a statement. “We believe that in these situations, our first action should be open and honest dialogue. We thank those, including the ADL, who have supported us during this time.
Nash was asked on Saturday if he thought Irving’s latest script was a distraction for the team.
“I don’t think our group is too affected by the situation,” Nash said. “We’ve had so many situations over the last 2 1/2 years that I think we kind of built immunity to some of them. I also think our guys are not very familiar with the material.