- Kyrie Irving was suspended for “failure to disavow antisemitism” after making controversial comments.
- After being benched for eight games, the Brooklyn Nets star apologized in an interview with SportsNet New York.
- Irving’s status was changed to “Questionable,” the team told Insider, indicating he may return to the court.
After being suspended from his team earlier this month for “failure to disavow antisemitism,” Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving may be returning to the NBA court following a televised apology where he said he is not antisemitic and doesn’t “condone any hate speech or prejudice.”
“I’m not antisemitic,” Irving said in an interview with SportsNet New York on Saturday. “I don’t have a hate in my heart for the Jewish people or anyone that identifies as a Jew. I’m not anti-Jewish or any of that…But I think the difficult aspect is just processing all this and understanding the power of my voice, the influence I have.”
A spokesperson for the Brooklyn Nets confirmed to Insider that Irving’s status has been listed as “Questionable” for tomorrow’s game against the Memphis Grizzlies, indicating he may return to the court. The designation is generally used for injured players returning to the game whose status is unconfirmed.
“Kyrie took ownership of his journey and had conversations with several members of the Jewish community,” the Nets said in a statement to Insider. “We are pleased that he is going about the process in a meaningful way.”
The week before Irving was suspended for a minimum of five games on November 3, the 30-year-old NBA player shared a link on his Twitter and Instagram to a documentary titled “Hebrews to Negroes: Wake Up Black America,” with no caption or commentary of his own to add context to the post.
The film argues certain people of color, including Black Americans, are the true descendants of the biblical Israelites and features antisemitic stereotypes and tropes about Jewish people being greedy and controlling the media.
The Brooklyn Nets denounced Irving’s sharing of the film but did not immediately suspend him. Irving was urged to apologize for sharing the video, but did not do so directly in a press conference, instead saying “I cannot be antisemitic if I know where I come from.” The New York Times reported he was suspended hours after he refused to apologize.
The day after his suspension was announced, Nike parted ways with the NBA star, ending an eight-year partnership with the athlete that reportedly earned him $11 million per year.
In his Saturday interview, Irving walked back his previous refusals to apologize and said he was acting from a place of defensiveness when confronted about his post on Twitter.
“I reacted out of you know, just pure defense and just hurt that I could be labeled or I thought that I was being labeled as anti semitic or anti Jewish and I felt like that was just so disrespectful to ask me whether or not I was antisemitic or not,” Irving told SportsNet New York. “Now to the outside world it may have been seen as a simple yes or no. You know, which rightfully so it should have been no, I’m not anti semitic… And I take my accountability and I want to apologize for that because it came off the wrong way completely.”