NEW YORK (AP) — Brooklyn goalie Kyrie Irving said Saturday he believes in all religions, two days after he appeared to show support for an anti-Semitic film.
The NBA, meanwhile, addressed the issue by condemning hate speech in a statement, but did not mention Irving’s name or make a direct reference to his latest controversial storyline.
“I am an OMNIST and did not mean to disrespect anyone’s religious beliefs,” read a tweet posted on Irving’s account. “The ‘anti-Semitic’ label imposed on me is unjustified and does not reflect the reality or the truth in which I live on a daily basis. I embrace and want to learn from all walks of life and all religions.
Nets owner Joe Tsai said Friday he was disappointed that Irving appeared to support a film “based on a book full of anti-Semitic misinformation.” The Nets’ star guard posted a link to the movie “Hebrews to Negroes: Wake Up Black America” on Twitter on Thursday. The synopsis on Amazon says the film “uncovers the true identity of the children of Israel.”
Irving was playing in the Nets’ Saturday game against Indiana.
“The organization spoke to Kyrie about it,” said Nets coach Steve Nash, who did not divulge details about what it meant.
Tsai and the Nets reacted quickly to the latest issues sparked by Irving, who had previously supported the idea that the Earth was flat and last month took to social media to share an old clip of conspiracy theorist Alex Jones.
“I want to sit down and make sure he understands this hurts us all, and as a man of faith, it’s wrong to promote hatred based on race, ethnicity or religion,” he said. wrote Tsai on Twitter about Irving.
The NBA said on Saturday that “hate speech of any kind is unacceptable.”
“We believe we all have a role to play in ensuring that such words or ideas, including anti-Semitic ones, are challenged and refuted and we will continue to work with all members of the NBA community to ensure everyone understands the impact of their words and actions,” the league said.
It was unclear whether this meant the league had spoken to Irving or planned to speak to him about it.
Irving was unavailable for most Nets home games last season because he refused to get a COVID-19 shot, as was required in New York. The Nets then refused to grant him a contract extension this summer, meaning Irving could be in his last season with the team.
“The Brooklyn Nets strongly condemn and have no tolerance for 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 ADL, who have supported us during this time.
Nash was asked on Saturday if he thought Irving’s latest script was a distraction for the team.
“I don’t think our group is too affected by the situation,” Nash said. “We’ve had so many situations over the last 2-1/2 years that I think we kind of built immunity to some of them. I also think our guys are not very familiar with the material.
AP Basketball Writer Tim Reynolds contributed to this story.
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