Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving on Saturday tweeted that he “meant no disrespect to anyone’s religious beliefs” after the owner of his NBA team condemned him for tweeting a link to a documentary deemed antisemitic.
“I’m disappointed that Kyrie appears to support a film based on a book full of anti-semitic disinformation,” Nets owner Joe Tsai wrote on Twitter Friday night.
“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.”
Tsai added, “This is bigger than basketball.”
Irving wrote in a tweet on Saturday: “I am an OMNIST and I meant no disrespect to anyone’s religious beliefs. The ‘Anti-Semitic’ 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.”
An omnist is someone who believes in all religions.
The star guard tweeted a link Thursday to the 2018 movie “Hebrews to Negroes: Wake Up Black America,” which is based on Ronald Dalton’s book of the same name. Rolling Stone described the book and movie as “stuffed with antisemitic tropes.”
Irving has made controversial statements and decisions in the past, including his absence from most of his team’s games last season because he refused to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, in a tweet on Friday called Irving’s social media post “troubling.”
“The book and film he promotes trade in deeply #antisemitic themes, including those promoted by dangerous sects of the Black Hebrew Israelites movement. Irving should clarify now.”
The Nets also spoke out against the star guard’s tweet.
“The Brooklyn Nets strongly condemn and have no tolerance for the promotion of any form of hate speech,” the team said in a statement to CNN.
“We believe that in these situations, our first action must be open, honest dialogue. We thank those, including the ADL (Anti-Defamation League), who have been supportive during this time.”
Prior to the team’s game Saturday night, Nets head coach Steve Nash said he was aware of statements made on the issue by Irving and the team.
“The organization has spoken to Kyrie about it, Nash said. “Clearly, I think we all represent values of inclusiveness, and equality, and condemn hate speech.”
The NBA issued a statement saying, “Hate speech of any kind is unacceptable and runs counter to the NBA’s values of equality, inclusion and respect. We believe we all have a role to play in ensuring such words or ideas, including antisemitic ones, are challenged and refuted and we will continue working with all members of the NBA community to ensure that everyone understands the impact of their words and actions.”
Rolling Stone said the movie and book include ideas in line with some “extreme factions” within the Black Hebrew Israelite movement that have expressed anti-Semitic and other discriminatory sentiments.
“Black Negro people of ‘Bantu’ descent in the Diaspora and in Sub-Saharan Africa cannot be labeled ‘Anti-Semitic’ because we are the True Ethnic Bloodline Israelites of the Bible,” the author Dalton said in an emailed statement to CNN. “If Kyrie Irving or any Black Celebrity needs ‘back up’ to prove that we are the True Israelites … i am available to assist them on or off the camera so that the world can finally see and receive the TRUTH.”
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