NBA: Brooklyn Nets say Kyrie Irving’s apology isn’t enough to end suspension

WASHINGTON – Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving, who was suspended indefinitely in the fallout of his social media posts promoting an anti-semitic film, will have to meet Jewish leaders and the team before he can return to play, general manager Sean Marks said on Friday.

The comments came a day after the National Basketball Association (NBA) team announced they had suspended Irving without pay for at least five games because he “refused to unequivocally say he has no anti-semitic beliefs, nor acknowledge specific hateful material” in the film he posted about last week.

“There is going to be some remedial steps and measures that have been put in place for him to, obviously, seek some counselling designated by the team,” Marks said. “We’ll evaluate and see if this is the right opportunity to bring him back.”

On Friday, Nike, which has produced Irving’s signature shoe since 2014, announced that it had suspended its relationship with him “effective immediately” and would not launch the next version of his shoe, the Kyrie 8.

“At Nike, we believe there is no place for hate speech, and we condemn any form of anti-semitism,” the company said in a statement. “We are deeply saddened and disappointed by the situation and its impact on everyone.”

Several media outlets have reported the shoe deal to be worth US$11 million (S$15.4 million).

The Nets will not pay Irving during his suspension. He is on a US$36.9 million contract this season, after having earned nearly US$195 million in his previous 11 seasons with the Cleveland Cavaliers, Boston Celtics and the Nets, according to Basketball-Reference.com.

Last week, Irving posted a link on Twitter to an anti-semitic film and posted a screenshot of the movie’s online rental page on Instagram. As fans, team leaders and even NBA commissioner Adam Silver called for Irving to apologise, the player resisted until after he was suspended on Thursday.

After the team announced his suspension, he apologised in a late-night post on Instagram, saying: “To All Jewish families and Communities that are hurt and affected from my post, I am deeply sorry to have caused you pain, and I apologise.”

Marks addressed reporters at a morning shoot-around before the Nets played the Washington Wizards. The Nets are one of the worst teams in the NBA, with a record of 2-6, and they fired their coach, Steve Nash, on Tuesday.

The Nets duly delivered, shaking off the controversy and easing to a 128-86 victory.

Kevin Durant came up just shy of a triple double, delivering 28 points, nine rebounds and 11 assists.

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