Brooklyn Nets point guard Kyrie Irving was granted a suspension by the team of at least five games.
Irving promoted the film “Hebrews to Negroes: Wake Up Black America” on his social media. According to the Anti-Defamation League, “The film promotes beliefs commonly found among antisemitic and extremist factions of the Black Hebrew Israelite movement, including claims that modern Jews are imposters who stole the religious heritage of Black people and have engaged in a ‘cover-up’ to prevent Black people from knowing their ‘true’ identity.”
Per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the Nets deemed Irving “unfit to be associated with the Brooklyn Nets.” The team suspended him on Nov. 3.
This issue has been polarizing in the landscape of sports and politics. It has brought up the conversation of the difference between free speech and hateful diction. Some in the media have condemned Irving and his actions, such as Shaquille O’Neal and Charles Barkley. Other analysts like Jay Williams and Jason Whitlock have supported Irving.
Christian Marshall, a sophomore journalism major, spoke on his interpretation of the situation.
“I don’t think his intentions were malicious when sharing the tweet,” Marshall said. “But Kyrie has had a history of sharing controversial political opinions and beliefs. I think this one finally crossed the line from being just controversial to potentially hurting another group of people.”
Some have pointed out that Amazon, the platform streaming the film, has received less backlash than Irving. Marshall agrees that the company should accept blame for their involvement as well.
“I definitely think Amazon should be getting criticism for having the movie on their platform,” Marshall said. “If the movie is antisemitic and harmful to people, then Amazon should receive just as much criticism as Kyrie for sharing it.”
Irving will have to complete a series of actions to return to the team, as The Athletic’s Shams Charania reported.
This punishment has been described as excessive by some. Figures like LeBron James and Shannon Sharpe said they believe Irving is being over-disciplined, even though they condemn his actions.
“In terms of the punishment, I do feel like it’s too much,” Marshall continued. “There have been other players who made antisemitic comments before and had similar punishments like meeting with religious leaders and making donations. But never to the degree that we are seeing with Kyrie. They basically are making him denounce his statement or he can’t play basketball again.”
Irving issued an apology on his Instagram immediately after receiving his suspension. He condemned his actions and atoned for negatively affecting any Jewish people.
As of Nov. 11, 2022, Irving has met with NBA commissioner Adam Silver and Nets owner Joseph Tsai. Both Silver and Tsai have stated they believe he is not antisemitic.
Copy edited by Chanice McClover-Lee