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Irving walks back anti-semitic post

Nets star admits he is now 'aware of the negative impact'

November 3, 2022 John Torenli, Sports Editor Brooklyn Daily Eagle
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Kyrie Irving and the Brooklyn Nets are headed to Washington, D.C., on Friday in a better place then they were for most of the past week.

That’s because Irving decided to take ownership of his now-infamous anti-semitic post, which thrust the organization into a whirlwind of controversy during a poor start to the season that likely cost former head coach Steve Nash his job.

Irving posted about the movie, “Hebrews to Negroes: Wake Up Black America” last week, sparking outrage from the Jewish community for his attempt to point his followers toward a film that is filled with antisemitic sentiment.

The mercurial point guard initially refused to “stand down” on his post, but he joined the Nets and the Anti-Defamation League in a joint statement Wednesday night backing down from his previously defiant stance.

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“I oppose all forms of hatred and oppression and stand strong with communities that are marginalized and impacted every day,” said Irving, who joined the franchise in donating $500,000 toward causes and organizations that work to eradicate hate and intolerance in our communities.

“I am aware of the negative impact of my post towards the Jewish community and I take responsibility,” he added. “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.”

Kyrie Irving and former Nets head coach Steve Nash both had rough weeks in Brooklyn, even though Irving will be with the team in Washington, D.C., on Friday night. AP Photo by Eric Gay

The release went on to note that Irving and the Nets will work with the ADL, a nonprofit organization devoted to fighting antisemitism and all types of hate that undermine justice and fair treatment for every individual.

Nets owner Joe Tsai vehemently condemned Irving’s post just a few months after denying the superstar a long-term deal this past summer.

Irving, who indicated his desire to come back to Brooklyn on a lucrative pact, decided to opt in to his $36.5 million option for the 2022-23 campaign.

He has faced protesters in the stands at Downtown’s Barclays Center since the post was publicized and suffered through a brutal showing in Tuesday’s 108-99 loss to the Chicago Bulls in Brooklyn, managing just four points on 2-of-12 shooting, including an 0-for-6 effort from 3-point range.

Those numbers pale in comparison to the public relations hit Irving and the Nets took throughout a week that also saw them wave goodbye to Nash after two-plus disappointing seasons at the helm of a star-laden squad that has failed to advance past the Eastern Conference semifinals since 2019.

That was the summer Irving and fellow superstar Kevin Durant arrived here to lead the Nets to their first-ever NBA title.

The playoff disappointments in each of the past three seasons, coupled with a 2-6 start to this year, has left Tsai and Nets general manager Sean Marks to ponder going in a new direction.

That can only be accomplished if Durant, who demanded to be traded this past summer before being denied that opportunity, and Irving, a free-agent in waiting, are jettisoned from our borough.

For now, both players will be in our nation’s capital to play the Wizards Friday hoping to turn things around on the hardwood.

None of that matters to the ADL, which is working alongside the Nets and Irving to come through these events with a greater understanding of how not to hate.

“At a time when antisemitism has reached historic levels, we know the best way to fight the oldest hatred is to both confront it head-on and also to change hearts and minds. With this partnership, ADL will work with the Nets and Kyrie to open dialogue and increase understanding,” ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt said.

“At the same time, we will maintain our vigilance and call out the use of anti-Jewish stereotypes and tropes – whatever, whoever, or wherever the source – as we work toward a world without hate.”

The Nets’ organization agreed.

“There is no room for antisemitism, racism, false narratives or misguided attempts to create animosity and hate,” said Sam Zussman, Chief Executive Officer of BSE Global, the parent company of the Nets and Barclays Center.

“Now, more than ever, there is a pressing need to ensure education in these areas. We are putting our prior statements into practice because actions speak louder than words.”

Nets owner Joe Tsai took a stand against antisemitism and condemned Kyrie Irving’s infamous post this week in Downtown Brooklyn. AP Photo by Corey Sipkin

The Nets also reiterated that they will continue to support and participate in Shine A Light, an ongoing initiative dedicated to spotlighting modern day antisemitism.

The Nets, the New York Liberty and the teams’ affiliated organizations will also host a series of community conversations at Barclays in partnership with ADL and other national civil rights organizations as well as local community associations, according to the release.

Brooklyn will begin a three-game road trip in D.C. that will also feature stops in Charlotte on Saturday and Dallas on Monday.

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