Kyrie Irving and the Brooklyn Nets announced a $1 million donation to organizations that strive to “eradicate hate and intolerance” after Irving promoted an anti-Semitic film on his social media platform last week.
Irving has faced intense backlash since he posted a link to the film “Hebrews to Negroes: Wake up Black America” on Twitter, which Brooklyn Nets owner Joe Tsai said is “full of antisemitic disinformation.” Despite a strong rebuke from the NBA, Nets and former players, Irving doubled down on this stance Saturday evening and said the “‘Anti-Semitic’ label that is being pushed on me is not justified.”
The seven-time All-Star appeared to change course on Wednesday, announcing that he and the Nets will each donate $500,000 “to promote education within our community.” Irving accepted responsibility for the criticism, but he stopped short of apologizing to those he offended.
“I oppose all forms of hatred and oppression and stand strong with communities that are marginalized and impacted every day,” Irving said in a joint statement with the Nets and the Anti-Defamation League (ADL).
He continued: “I am aware of the negative impact of my post towards the Jewish community and I take responsibility. I do not believe everything said in the documentary was true or reflects my morals and principles. I am a human being learning from all walks of life and I intend to do so with an open mind and a willingness to listen. So from my family and I, we meant no harm to any one group, race or religion of people, and wish to only be a beacon of truth and light.”
Irving and the Nets will work closely with the ADL to “combat all forms of antisemitism and bigotry.” The Brooklyn Nets will also host community conversations at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn with the ADL and other civil rights organizations.
“At a time when antisemitism has reached historic levels, we know the best way to fight the oldest hatred is to both confront it head-on and also to change hearts and minds. With this partnership, ADL will work with the Nets and Kyrie to open dialogue and increase understanding,” ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt said in a statement.
The NBA released a statement on Saturday, saying “hate speech of any kind is unacceptable and runs counter to the NBA’s values of equality, inclusion and respect.” The statement didn’t name Irving.
Irving hasn’t faced any fines or suspensions from the league over his actions. He didn’t speak to the media following the Nets’ 108-99 loss to the Chicago Bulls on Tuesday, the team’s first game since head coach Steve Nash and the Nets parted ways.