Brooklyn guard Keri Irving said Saturday he believes in all religions, two days after he appeared in support of an anti-Semitic film.
Meanwhile, the NBA fought the matter by condemning hate speech in a statement, but did not mention Irving by name or directly refer to the latest controversial story.
“I am OMNIST and I mean disrespect for anyone’s religious beliefs,” read a tweet posted to Irving’s account. The label “anti-Semitism” that is being pushed into me is unjustified and does not reflect the reality or reality I live with every day. I embrace and want to learn from all walks of life and religions.”
Nets owner Joe Tsai said Friday he was disappointed that Irving appeared to support a movie “based on a book full of anti-Semitic misinformation.” The Nets star posted a link to “Hebrews to Negroes: Wake Up Black America” on Twitter on Thursday. The synopsis on Amazon states that the film “reveals the true identity of the children of Israel.”
Irving was playing in a Nets game on Saturday against Indiana.
“The organization has spoken to Kerry about it,” said Nets coach Steve Nash, not revealing details of what that means.
Tsai and the networks quickly responded to the latest issues raised by Irving, who had previously championed the idea that the Earth is flat, and last month shared on social media an old clip from conspiracy theorist Alex Jones.
“I want to sit down and make sure he understands that this hurts all of us, and as a clergyman, it is wrong to promote hate based on race, ethnicity, or religion,” Tsai wrote on Twitter regarding Irving.
“Hate speech of any kind is unacceptable,” the National Basketball Association said on Saturday.
“We believe we all have a role to play in ensuring that such words or ideas, including anti-Semitic words or ideas, are challenged and refuted, and we will continue to work with all members of the NBA community to ensure that everyone understands the impact of their words and actions,” the league said.
It wasn’t clear if that meant the league had spoken to Irving or was planning to speak to him about the matter.
Irving was unavailable for most of the Nets’ home games last season because he refused to be vaccinated against Covid-19, as he was assigned to in New York City. The Nets then refused to grant him a contract extension this summer, which means Irving could be in his last season with the team.
“The Brooklyn Nets strongly condemn and do not tolerate the promotion of any form of hate speech,” the team said in a statement. We believe that in these situations, our first action should be open and honest dialogue. We thank those, including the Anti-Defamation League, who have provided support during this time.”
On Saturday, Nash was asked if he feels if Irving’s latest story is distracting the team.
“I don’t think our group is overly affected by the situation,” Nash said. “We’ve been through a lot of situations over the last two and a half years, and I think we’ve kind of built up an immunity to some of them. I also think our guys aren’t familiar with the substances.”
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