NEW YORK — Kyrie Irving said Saturday that he embraced all religions, defiantly defending his right to publish his beliefs after the Brooklyn Nets owner said he was disappointed that Irving appeared to support an anti-Semitic movie.
“It’s 2022. History isn’t supposed to be hidden from anyone, and I’m not divisive when it comes to religion,” Irving said during a tense postgame news conference. “I embrace all areas of life.”
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 guard posted a link to the film “Hebrews to Negroes: Wake Up Black America” on Twitter Thursday. The Amazon synopsis states that the film “reveals the true identity of the Children of Israel.”
“The organization talked to Kyrie about it,” Nets coach Steve Nash said before their loss at Indiana, without elaborating on what that meant.
But none of that said will stop Irving from what he wants to share.
“I’m not going to give up on anything I believe in,” he said. “I will become stronger because I am not alone. I have a whole army around me.”
Irving said he understood Tsai’s position, but was quick to say he didn’t do anything harmful, adding that just because he posts about something doesn’t necessarily mean he supports it.
“Did I do something illegal? Did I hurt anyone?’ Irving said. “Did I hurt anyone? Do I come out and say I hate a certain group of people?’
But it went far enough that the Nets and the NBA spoke out against hate speech.
Tsai and the Nets quickly reacted to the latest trouble from Irving, who has previously supported the idea of a flat Earth and last month shared an old quote from conspiracy theorist Alex Jones on social media — though Irving clarified that he didn’t stand with Jones when it came to anything about the Sandy Hook shootings.
“I want to sit down and make sure he understands that this is harmful to all of us and as a believer, it is wrong to promote hate based on race, ethnicity or religion,” Tsai tweeted about Irving.
The NBA on Saturday said “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 that everyone understands the impact of their words and actions. “, said the league.
It was unclear if that meant the league has spoken with Irving or plans to speak with 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 mandated in New York. The Nets then declined to give him a contract extension this summer, meaning Irving could be in his final season with the team.
“The Brooklyn Nets strongly condemn and have zero tolerance for the promotion of any form of hate speech,” the team said in a statement. “We believe that in these situations, our first course of action should be open, honest dialogue. We thank those, including the ADL, who have helped during this time.”
Nash was asked Saturday if he felt Irving’s latest story was distracting the team.
“I don’t think our team is overly affected by the situation,” Nash said. “We’ve had so many situations in the last 2 1/2 years that I think we’ve developed an immunity to some of them. I also think our kids aren’t as familiar with the material.”