National Sports

Kyrie Irving Suspended

Victor Josifovski

National/World Editor

On Nov 4., the Brooklyn Nets announced the suspension of star player Kyrie Irving for five games after Irving posted a link to a movie promoting Anti-Semetic themes and theories. The team has declared Irving “unfit to be associated with the organization,” while Nets owner Joe Tsai laid out six action items for Irving to complete before returning to the court. 

Irving’s post, made on Twitter, included a link to a movie titled “Hebrews to Negroes: Wake Up Black America.” The film, which is still available on Amazon Prime Video, contains a series of anti-semitic remarks including quotes from figures like Adolf Hitler and Henry Ford, as well as theories denying the Holocaust. 

The suspension arrives at the conclusion of an unapologetic standoff between Irving, the Nets, and the NBA. When first questioned by press following his post, Irving engaged in a heated argument with ESPN reporter Nick Freidell, lamenting that he was “not the one who made the documentary” and claiming “I can’t be antisemitic if I know where I came from.” Ultimately, Irving refused to consult with team owner Joe Tsai and continued to remain defensive, prompting the five-game suspension.

Meanwhile, Tsai is proactively addressing the situation. After consulting with the Anti-Defamation League and taking the time to watch the movie Irving advertised, Tsai looked to educate Irving on the harms of his actions, before choosing to suspend Irving when he refused to cooperate. With the suspension in effect, Tsai mandated that before Irving return to the team he must apologize and condemn the film, contribute a $500,000 donation to an anti-hate organization, complete anti-semitism and sensitivity training, and more. 

Hours after the suspension, Irving formally apologized, saying to all Jewish communities and families that he feels “deeply sorry to have caused you pain” and takes “full accountability and responsibility” for his actions. At the same time, the (NBA) Players Association, which represents all NBA players, openly criticized the requirements Irving must satisfy to return to the court. Players association vice president Jaylen Brown, while acknowledging the league’s commitment to oppose hate speech, questions the league’s ability to punish players for what they post, stating “There’s no language in our CBA [Collective Bargaining Agreement]. There’s no rules against it. This is uncharted territory for everybody.”

 Irving’s case is setting a precedent for future regulations between players and the league. Though his case demonstrates the NBA’s commitment to combating hate speech, it brings to light the influence athletes have on public opinions.

(Sources: ESPN, CBS Sports, PBS, Fan Nation, House of Highlights)

Categories: National Sports, Sports

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