Nets guard Kyrie Irving, who has been suspended since Nov. 3, said during a television interview published on Saturday that he desired to “apologize deeply” for his posting of a link to an antisemitic film.
“I’m not antisemitic,” Irving told SNY, a neighborhood Recent York outlet in his first at-length interview since his suspension from the team. “I never have been. I don’t have hate in my heart for the Jewish people or anyone that identifies as a Jew. I’m not anti-Jewish or any of that.”
Irving, who spoke through videoconferencing, reflected on his absence from basketball and the widespread criticism of his behavior after his post on Twitter, saying that he now understands “the facility of my voice, the influence that I even have.”
“I’m nobody’s idol, but I’m a human being that wishes to make impact and alter. In an effort to try this, I even have to live responsibly and set a greater example for our youth, for my generation and the older generation,” he said. “So I just think I actually need to give attention to the hurt that I caused or the impact that I made throughout the Jewish community.”
On Oct. 27, Irving posted a link on Twitter to a 2018 film called “Hebrew to Negroes: Wake Up Black America,” a movie driven by antisemitic tropes, including false assertions concerning the Holocaust. The tweet was eventually deleted.
In multiple combative news conferences with reporters, Irving declined to apologize for posting the video and to say directly whether he had antisemitic views, spurring widespread outrage and criticism inside and beyond N.B.A. circles. He also said during one among those appearances that he believed in a “latest world order” conspiracy theory pushed by the Infowars broadcaster Alex Jones.
Within the video of the interview published on Saturday, Irving was asked about his views on Jews, but not about Jones or his suspension — and potential return — to the game.
Shortly after the interview was published, the Nets upgraded Irving’s status to “questionable” for Sunday’s game, which is a designation typically given to a player working his way back from an injury whose status has yet to be finalized. The Nets are slated to host the Memphis Grizzlies and the incontrovertible fact that Irving was mentioned within the team’s status report could indicate his suspension is coming to an end.
“Kyrie took ownership of his journey and had conversations with several members of the Jewish community,” the Nets said in an announcement. “We’re pleased that he’s going concerning the process in a meaningful way.”
Because the suspension, the 30-year-old Irving lost a shoe cope with Nike and his future with the Nets was thrown into doubt. He apologized in an Instagram post after the suspension was announced, however the team’s general manager, Sean Marks, said on Nov. 4 that the apology wasn’t enough. Irving, a seven-time All-Star within the last 12 months of his contract with the Nets, has long been one among the N.B.A.’s more controversial players while also being one among its most talented guards. Up to now, he has publicly trafficked in other false conspiracy theories, comparable to the earth being flat. Last season, he became a cause célèbre for those against government vaccine mandates when he declined to be vaccinated for the coronavirus, which kept Irving from playing in most of last 12 months’s home games.
N.B.A. Commissioner Adam Silver said in an interview with The Times on Nov. 10 that he didn’t consider Irving to be antisemitic. Irving has thus far missed eight games.
Irving described his period away from the franchise as “a learning journey” and that there “was plenty of hurt that needed to be healed.” He also said he had done “plenty of reflection.”
“I got a probability to try this with some great people from the Jewish community, from the Black community, you understand, from the white community,” Irving said. “I’ve had so many conversations with all of our races and cultures and non secular groups of individuals just trying to raised my perspective on how we live a more harmonious life.”
Irving didn’t specify who specifically he had conversations with, but said that he’s a “man who stands for peace.”
“I don’t condone any hate speech or any prejudice, and I don’t need to be ready where I’m being misunderstood on where I stand by way of antisemitism or any hate for that matter, for anybody on this world,” Irving said. “So the method over the previous couple of weeks was just plenty of conversations. I don’t need to get too deep into the main points of those conversations, but they were very moving, very impactful. And it helped me develop into more aware of the repair that needed to be done.”
Asked about his intent in tweeting the link to the video, Irving said he had “meant no harm.”
“I desired to share the link with all those who were also on the identical journey in search for his or her heritage as I’m on,” Irving said. “The unlucky aspect in that three-hour documentary is the antisemitic remarks. You recognize, by way of generalizing Jewish people, I feel that was unfair and that wasn’t the aspect of the post that I wanted the main focus to be on.”
He added, “It was only a post. It was no context I’ll put into it.”
Irving also cited his background growing up in West Orange, N.J., which he described as a “melting pot,” as a part of the explanation he didn’t unequivocally denounce antisemitism initially.
“I grew up around Jewish people,” Irving said. “I grew up around, you understand, different white folks that identified as their very own heritage. And I’ve identified as my very own heritage. And, you understand, inside all that, as a child, I actually picked up early on that we’re really legitimately one human race and it’s our job as human beings to guard each other.”
He added, “All in all, I felt like I used to be protecting my character. And I reacted out of, you understand, just pure defense and I’m just hurt that I may very well be labeled or I believed that I used to be being labeled as anti Semitic or anti-Jewish. And I felt like that was just so disrespectful to ask me whether or not I used to be antisemitic or not.”