Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving said Sunday (all times AEDT) he embraces “all religions” after team owner Joe Tsai condemned his tweet linking to a film Tsai called “full of anti-Semitic information.”
“I am an OMNIST and I meant no disrespect to anyone’s religious beliefs,” Irving said on Twitter.
“The ‘antisemitic’ label that is being pushed on me is not justified and does not reflect the reality or truth I live in everyday. I embrace and want to learn from all walks of life and religions.” Tsai said in a Twitter post on Friday he was “disappointed” that Irving drew attention to the 2018 film “Hebrews to Negroes: Wake up Black America”.
“I’m disappointed that Kyrie appears to support a film based on a book full of anti-Semitic disinformation,” Tsai said. “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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“This is bigger than basketball.”
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In addition to his Saturday tweet, Irving took issue with a reporter at the Nets’ game who suggested he was promoting the movie.
“Please stop calling it a promotion,” Irving said. “What am I promoting? I put it out there, just like you put things out there. You put things out there for a living, right?
“Let’s move on,” he said, and as the reporter attempted to pursue the line of questioning added: “Don’t dehumanise me up here.
“I’m another human being, I can post whatever I want, so say that and shut it down and move on to the next question.
“I don’t have to understand anything from you, nothing. Move on, next question. Do you guys have anymore questions?
“Because this is going to be a clip that he’s going to marvel at,” Irving said, as the journalist responded: “But you’re not answering the question.”
Irving added: “Oh it’s another answer to your question. Oh my god, make another Instagram clip so we can be famous again.”
In addition to Tsai’s Twitter post, the Nets issued a statement saying they “strongly condemn and have no tolerance for the promotion of any form of hate speech.”
Nets coach Steve Nash said before Brooklyn’s loss to Indiana on Sunday that the team had spoken to Irving about the matter.
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“I know the organisation made a statement. The organisation has spoken to Kyrie about it,” Nash said. “Clearly, I think we all represent values of inclusiveness and equality, and condemn hate speech.
“I’m not familiar with the material that Kyrie was promoting,” Nash added.
“It’s really something that I’m not too versed on, but this is a generality: We believe in equality and I think our organisation has stood for that for a long, long time and has backed that up.” Irving has shared controversial opinions before.
He was sidelined much of last season because of his refusal to be vaccinated against Covid-19, calling Covid vaccine mandates “one of the biggest violations of HUMAN RIGHTS in history.”
He once caused a flap by suggesting he believes the Earth is flat, and in October he was criticised by NBA legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for sharing a video from far-right conspiracy theorist Alex Jones.
Irving noted in his press conference on Sunday that he doesn’t stand by Jones’s infamous claim that the deadly 2012 Sandy Hook elementary school shooting was a “hoax,” a claim that has seen Jones ordered by a jury to pay almost $1 billion in damages.
Irving said he posted a clip that Jones put together years ago about “secret societies” in America that Irving believes is true