Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving was asked on Thursday if he was apologizing when he said he didn’t mean to cause any offense after tweeting a link to the 2018 movie “Hebrews to Negroes: Wake Up Black America.”
“I didn’t mean to cause any harm,” Irving replied. “I’m not the one that made the documentary.”
Irving was condemned last week by, among others, Nets owner Joe Tsai and the NBA for tweeting a link to the movie, which is based on Ronald Dalton’s book of the same name and has been blasted as being antisemitic by civil rights groups.
While meeting with the media on Thursday, Irving said: “I take my full responsibility, again I’ll repeat it, for posting something on my Instagram or Twitter that may have had some unfortunate falsehoods in it.
“I take my responsibility for posting that,” Irving continued. “Some things that were questionable in there, untrue.
“Like I said the first time you all asked me while I was sitting on that stage. I don’t believe everything that everybody posts. It’s a documentary. So, I take my responsibility.”
Asked if he had any antisemitic beliefs, Irving responded: “I respect all walks of life. I embrace all walks of life. That’s where I sit.”
When pressed to answer yes or no to the question, he replied: “I cannot be antisemitic if I know where I come from.”
Irving’s media appearance came after he and the Brooklyn Nets announced on Wednesday that they will both donate $500,000 towards anti-hate organizations after the point guard tweeted the documentary.
In a joint statement between Irving, Nets and the Anti-Defamation League – a “nonprofit organization devoted to fighting antisemitism and all types of hate that undermine justice and fair treatment for every individual” – the 30-year-old said he took “responsibility” for the “negative impact” his post had towards the Jewish community.
“I oppose all forms of hatred and oppression and stand strong with communities that are marginalized and impacted every day,” Irving said.
“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.”
Earlier this week, NBA analyst and Basketball Hall of Famer Charles Barkley said he thought the league “dropped the ball” on Irving and that he believed the player should have been suspended.
On Tuesday, when asked why Irving had not been disciplined for his actions, Nets general manager Sean Marks told reporters: “I think we are having these discussions behind the scenes.
“I honestly don’t want to really get into those right now. … Really just trying to weigh out exactly what the best course of action is here.”
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver says he is “disappointed” with Irving after the guard did not offer an apology nor denounce the “harmful content contained in the film he chose to publicize.” Silver will meet with Irving in the next week, the commissioner said in a statement Thursday.
“Kyrie Irving made a reckless decision to post a link to a film containing deeply offensive antisemitic material,” Silver said.
“While we appreciate the fact that he agreed to work with the Brooklyn Nets and the Anti-Defamation League to combat antisemitism and other forms of discrimination, I am disappointed that he has not offered an unqualified apology and more specifically denounced the vile and harmful content contained in the film he chose to publicize.”
Irving was not made available to the media on Monday or Tuesday following Nets games on those days.
The joint statement said the donations were made to “eradicate hate and intolerance in our communities.”
“This is an effort to develop educational programming that is inclusive and will comprehensively combat all forms of antisemitism and bigotry,” the statement read.
Jonathan Greenblatt, the Anti-Defamation League CEO, said: “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.
“At the same time, we will maintain our vigilance and call out the use of anti-Jewish stereotypes and tropes – whatever, whoever, or wherever the source – as we work toward a world without hate.”
Kanye West, who has been criticized following antisemitic remarks on social media and in interviews, showed his support for Irving, tweeting a picture of the guard on Thursday.
Ye, formerly known as Kanye West, has previously said Jewish people have too much control over the business world.
He threatened in a Twitter post to “Go death con 3 on JEWISH PEOPLE.” He also ranted in an Instagram post about Ari Emanuel, CEO of the talent agency Endeavor, referencing “business” people when he clearly meant Jews.
Last Friday, he told paparazzi that his mental health issues had been misdiagnosed by a Jewish doctor, made reference to Jewish ownership of media and compared Planned Parenthood to the Holocaust.