26.06.2024

Brooklyn Nets owner responds to Kyrie Irving promoting antisemitic film

The owner of the Brooklyn Nets condemned Kyrie Irving’s support of an anti-Semitic film. Joe Tsai, who is also the executive director of the Chinese multinational Alibaba, said on Twitter that Mr Irving’s promotion of the film Hebrews to Negroes: Wake Up Black America was “bigger than basketball”.

“I’m disappointed that Kyrie appears to support a film based on a book full of anti-Semitic disinformation,” Mr Tsai tweeted. “I want to sit down and make sure he understands this is hurtful to all of us, and as a man of faith, it is wrong to promote hate based on race, ethnicity or religion.”

On Thursday, Mr Irving shared a tweet with a link to the film. On Saturday, he doubled down on his support for the film and the “New World Order” conspiracy theory, which baselessly claims that a secretive elite of government officials seeks to control the population.

“History is not supposed to be hidden from anybody,” Mr Irving said during a press conference, per The New York Times. “Did I do anything illegal? Did I hurt anybody? Did I harm anybody? Am I going out and saying that I hate one specific group of people?”

After Mr Tsai’s remarks, Mr Irving said that he supported all religions and denied being an antisemite.

“The ‘Anti-Semitic’ label that is being pushed on me is not justified and does not reflect the reality or truth I live in everyday,” Mr Irving tweeted. “I embrace and want to learn from all walks of life and religions.”

The NBA also issued a statement seemingly in response to the controversy, stating that “hate speech of any kind is unacceptable and runs counter to the NBA’s values of equality, inclusion and respect”.

No disciplinary action has been taken against Mr Irving. The Independent has reached out to the NBA and the Brooklyn Nets for comment.

After the game between the Nets and the Indiana Pacers on Saturday, Mr Irving said that although he respected Mr Tsai’s input, his support for the film “has a lot to do with not ego or pride with how proud [he is to] be African heritage but also to be living as a free black man here in America[,] knowing the historical complexities for [him] to get here”.

Mr Irving, who said he had found the film on Amazon, said that he was not going to issue a retraction that didn’t reflect his true sentiments and that he “had an army” around him.

Hebrews to Negroes, the Rolling Stones reports, hints that racism against Blacks was first pushed by Jewish scriptures.

Mr Irving had previously shared on his social media about the “New World Order” conspiracy theory, and on Saturday defended his stance by saying that the post, pushed by conspiracy Alex Jones, was right about “secret societies in America and cults.”

Mr Irving, who has been with the Nets since 2019, denied promoting the film and said that he had “just shared a post.”

When ESPN reporter Nick Froedell pushed on his questioning of Mr Irving’s motivation to share such content on social media, Mr Irving told him not to “dehumanize him” and refused to elaborate on his responses.

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