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Do you know how easy it is to say “I’m sorry!”? or that you are not an anti-Semite? Apparently, it was a tremendous challenge for Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving. Everyone is entitled to make mistakes, but damn it, you can’t be so careless with a public spotlight and face the consequences. Immediately after Kanye West’s anti-Semitic patterns were easily identified in October, Irving sponsored a film and book full of lies and easily refutable claims about the Jewish people. After being made aware of this, Irving doubled, tripled and quadrupled his belief that he had done nothing wrong, a thought by the former Duke star that was not based in reality.
Let’s make a clear timeline for those who don’t know. Irving posted the untruth-ridden project to his social media on a Friday, promptly condemned by Nets owner Joe Tsai. Much outside noise prompted the NBA to suspend Irving before he could speak publicly about it. The NBA has no policy or precedent for suspending players for inflammatory comments. In September, the league did not ban Minnesota Timberwolves forward Anthony Edwards for using an anti-gay slur in a video game live stream. Precedent set up individual teams to punish their players for hate speech or discrimination, as in the case of former Miami Heat center Meyers Leonard, who also used an anti-Semitic slur in a video game live stream. Why is Twitch a safe haven for this? Leonard was first suspended indefinitely by his team, then handed a one-week ban by the NBA before finally being traded to Oklahoma City. He never played a game for the Thunder and was released.
Irving had several opportunities to apologize. At a Saturday press conference after the game the day after the post was deleted within 48 hours? No, and instead he attacked the reporter who asked the question about the anti-Semitic film. After Irving was given another opportunity to comment on the situation during a media session the following Thursday, he talked widely without saying “I’m sorry” or “I have no anti-Semitic beliefs.” This comes after NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, who is Jewish, condemned his behavior and the Anti-Defamation League said they would work with the Nets and Irving to donate $1 million to charities helping fight anti-Semitism. The ADL, whose mission is to stop the mistreatment of Jewish people and ensure equal treatment for all, detected 2,717 incidents of antisemitism in 2021, a 34 percent increase from 2020. That’s an average of more than seven such incidents per day . Several NBA figureheads and media personalities called for his suspension following Saturday’s incident. After Thursday’s undeniable signs of no regrets, Tsai had no choice. And a long suspension was imposed until Irving proved he had learned from it why his actions were so hurtful to the Jewish people and others.
Irving “apologized” the night he was suspended by the Nets, but sincerity is still in question after weeks of having his paycheck taken away from him. When someone is forced to say sorry, are they really sorry? I cannot say that this is definitively supported by his misspellings of anti-Semitism in his attempt at post-suspension damage control. Not recognizing a huge platform you have because you’re famous is downright negligent. Don’t you believe me when it comes to the Jewish people? Then explain to me the credible broad threat against synagogues in New Jersey that was reported by the FBI in Newark on the day Irving’s suspension began.
Irving’s laziness about the coronavirus vaccine didn’t get him in hot water, but it did make him look like a jerk. Combined with his social media post, which skyrocketed the anti-Semitic book and film on Amazon’s best-seller lists for weeks and then denied you were involved, is beyond idiotic when the supporting evidence is readily available public information. Let’s hope no one in the NBA relapses and spreads more hatred against the Jewish people.