The suspension — which is indefinite and without pay — comes following Rolling Stone‘s report that the star guard amplified a film that pushed antisemitic tropes, linking his 4.5 million Twitter followers to Hebrews to Negroes: Wake Up Black America.
In the statement released Thursday, the Nets wrote: “We were dismayed today, when given an opportunity in a media session, that Kyrie refused to unequivocally say he has no antisemitic beliefs, nor acknowledge the specific hateful material in the film. This was not the first time he had the opportunity — but failed — to clarify.”
The “media session” referred to in the statement took place earlier on Thursday. Irving was asked by a reporter if he has any antisemitic beliefs. In response, Irving replies: “I don’t know how the label becomes justified because you guys ask me the same questions over and over again. But this is not going to turn into a spin around cycle. Questions upon questions. I told you guys how I felt. I respect all walks of life and embrace all walks of life.” When pressed for a “yes” or “no” answer, the player then adds, repeating twice, “I cannot be antisemitic if I know where I come from.”
In the statement from the Nets, the organization claimed that Irving “is currently unfit to be associated with the Brooklyn Nets” and that he “will serve a suspension without pay until he satisfies a series of objective remedial measures that address the harmful impact of his conduct and the suspension period served is no less than five games.”
The Nets suspension follows Irving’s non-apology early this week, in which he “took responsibility” for his action and said he doesn’t believe that what the film said was “true or reflects my morals and principles.”
He added, “I am a human being learning from all walks of life and I intend to do so with an open mind and 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.”
Last week, the NBA issued a statement that, while not directly naming Irving, said, “Hate speech of any kind is unacceptable and runs counter to the NBA’s values of equality, inclusion and respect. We believe we all have a role to play in ensuring such words and ideas, including antisemitic ones, are challenged and refuted and we will continue working with all members of the NBA community to ensure that everyone understands the impact of their words and actions.”