NEW YORK – Be careful what you wish for. That adage is probably appropriate when it comes to Kyrie Irving and his misguided, misinformed and downright dangerous support of antisemitism.
Brooklyn Nets general manager Sean Marks, in announcing the firing of coach Steve Nash on Tuesday, tried to say Irving’s sorry-not-sorry stance over the antisemitic posts he made on social media had nothing to do with the team’s decision.
He said no players were consulted, and he urged reporters not to link the coaching change and Irving’s posts.
But it is hard to separate Irving from the disaster the Nets have become, even though they were hyped before the season as a possible title contender.
Irving’s offensive posts, while no longer online, have clearly overshadowed the Nets and the league. Some courtside fans wore T-shirts reading “Fight Antisemitism” at a home game on Monday against the Indiana Pacers, and Marks said that the team had been asking for advice from the Anti-Defamation League.
By Wednesday night, the Nets said in a statement that the team and Irving would each donate US$500,000 (S$708,000) “toward causes and organisations that work to eradicate hate and intolerance in our communities”.
It is a positive step, but the NBA should be ashamed one of its franchises had to resort to such a dialogue.
Irving simply needs to consider the power of his words and his role in spreading dangerous messages to millions.
The guard is a basketball star with a megaphone. Nike sponsors him and produces his signature shoe. He is a vice-president of the NBA players union. He also has 22 million followers on Twitter and Instagram.
He can use his platform for good, which he has done as one of the many famed Black athletes who stood against injustice during the tumult of 2020 following the killings of Ahmaud Arbery and George Floyd.
But unfortunately he can also do as he has done now – use his status to inject poison into our world.
Irving last week shared to his social media following a link to a film that is a case study in antisemitic tropes and the disgusting narratives that have dogged and harmed Jews for generations.