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Kyrie Irving deletes Tweet promoting anti-Semitic film, unlikely to face penalty from NBA

More than three days after Tweeting to promote an anti-Semitic film, Kyrie Irving finally deleted the Tweet Sunday night and appears unlikely to face any penalty from the NBA.

The New York Post reported Irving is unlikely to face punishment from the league. An email to an NBA spokesman asking if any penalty was expected went unanswered as of Monday morning.

Irving, a West Orange native and former star at St. Patrick High School with 4.6 million Twitter followers, has been condemned by Nets owner Joe Tsai, Jonathan Greenblatt, the CEO and National Director of the Anti-Defamation League, and Nets broadcaster and former star Richard Jefferson for the Tweet. The Post’s Mike Vaccaro also wrote a column published Monday calling for the Nets to cut ties with Irving, entitled “Enough is Enough: Nets have to finally fix this mess and get rid of Kyrie.”

“I’m disappointed that Kyrie appears to support a film based on a book full of anti-semitic disinformation,” Tsai Tweeted Thursday. “I want to sit down and make sure he understands this is hurtful to all of us, and as a man of faith, it is wrong to promote hate based on race, ethnicity or religion.”

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Greenblatt has communicated directly with Tsai about the issue, according to the Post, and sub-Tweeted Tsai’s post:

“Thanks to my friend @joetsai1999 and @BrooklynNets for responding quickly to condemn the promotion of #antisemitic hate speech. All of us at @ADL appreciate your leadership and look forward to continuing our discussions.”

As Rolling Stone first reported in an article Friday, Irving promoted a movie called “Hebrews to Negroes: Wake Up Black America” that, as the magazine points out, is “stuffed with antisemitic tropes.” The film also cites a quote attributed to Adolph Hitler which says Jews “will extort America, their plan for world domination won’t work if the Negroes know who they are.”

Irving posted a tweet Thursday that linked to the film’s Amazon page. The movie, which was released in 2018, is based on a 2015 book by the same name. Irving confirmed Saturday he has seen the film and said he found it because “my name translates in the Hebrew language as Yahweh” and he searched for Yahweh on Amazon.

In a heated exchange with reporters Saturday night, Irving insisted he’s not anti-Semitic, saying that he “embrace[s] and want[s] to learn from all walks of life and religions.”

But he also doubled down on his Tweet.

“I’m not going to stand down on anything that I believe in,” he said. “I’m only going to get stronger because I’m not alone. I have a whole army around me.”

The NBA issued a statement Saturday night condemning hate speech.

This month, ironically, the NBA and the National Basketball Players Association announced a “Respect for the Game” program to encourage respectful behavior at all levels of the sport.

In a joint statement, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver and NBPA Executive Director Tamika Tremaglio said: “Respect and dignity are core values of both the NBA and the NBPA.  With the start of a new NBA season, we are reaffirming our commitment to promoting healthy and courteous relationships among players, coaches, referees, fans and parents throughout the game.”

Jefferson, the Nets broadcaster and former player, called out Irving on the YES Network broadcast of their loss to the Pacers Saturday night.

“It’s tough because it’s disappointing. Kyrie says he’s not anti-Semitic. But the tweet is still up; the tweet’s still up there,” Jefferson said, per the Post. “Earlier in the summer Kyrie also posted Alex Jones who basically tortured a bunch of families … in Connecticut after the Sandy Hook tragedy. He was torturing those families and Kyrie posted a video from this man [although] it wasn’t about that specific thing.

“You have to understand how to use social media that has effects, how it can affect people. And if you’re insensitive to that then you’re truly endorsing that. So to say that and not take it down, to repost Alex Jones, you are endorsing them and giving them your social media platform with millions and millions of followers. You’re giving them an endorsement. You’re saying ‘Look at this man, look at this movie.’ Those things have effects and people have to understand that.”

Irving was asked Saturday by ESPN’s Nick Friedell about recent posts that promoted Jones’ New World Order conspiracy theory, which falsely suggests that people in the government are working to enslave the human population by, among other methods, releasing viruses. He was ripped by NBA legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for the post, with the legend saying sponsors should drop Irving.

“That was a few weeks ago,” Irving said. “I do not stand with Alex Jones’ position, narrative, court case that he had with Sandy Hook, or any of the kids that felt like they had to relive trauma or parents that had to relive trauma, or to be dismissive to all the lives that were lost during that tragic event. My post was a post from Alex Jones that he did in the early 90s or late 90s about secret societies in America of cults, and it’s true. So I wasn’t identifying with anything… for Alex Jones, it’s just there to post.

“And it’s funny, it’s actually hilarious, because of all the things I posted that day, that was the one post that everyone chose to see.”

The Nets, losers of four straight, return to the court Monday night at Barclays Center when Irving will have another chance to answer questions.

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Adam Zagoria is a freelance reporter who covers Seton Hall and NJ college basketball for NJ Advance Media. You may follow him on Twitter @AdamZagoria and check out his Website at ZAGSBLOG.com.




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