Kyrie Irving joins the Nets and apologizes for the hurt his actions have caused


“I don’t advocate anything that smacks of hate speech or anti-Semitism…”

FILE – Kyrie Irving of the Brooklyn Nets speaks before the team’s game against the New Orleans Pelicans, Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2022, in New York City. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II, File) The Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) — Kyrie Irving returned to the Brooklyn Nets on Sunday and apologized to anyone who felt threatened or hurt when he posted a link to a documentary containing anti-Semitic material.

Irving was suspended by the team Nov. 3, hours after he refused to say he held no anti-Semitic beliefs during a meeting with reporters at the Nets’ practice facility.

Back at the building for the morning squad shootout, Irving said he should have handled this interview differently.

“I don’t advocate anything that comes close to hate speech or anti-Semitism or anything that goes against the human race,” Irving said. “I think we should all have the opportunity to speak for ourselves when things are being assumed about us and I think it was necessary for me to stand here and take responsibility for my actions because there was a way I should have handled all of this and as I look back and reflect on when I had the opportunity to express my deepest regrets to anyone who felt threatened or hurt by what I posted, it was not my intention at all.

Irving missed eight games during the suspension, which the Nets said would be for a minimum of five games without pay. The team said he is available to play in Sunday night’s home game against Memphis.

Irving said he was initially looking for more information about his heritage when he posted the link to “Hebrews to Negroes: Wake Up Black America” ​​on his Twitter page. When first asked about it, he challenged his right to post material that interested him. Then he refused to apologize or clarify his religious beliefs in another interview a few days later, which resulted in his suspension.

“I was rightly defensive that there was an assumption that I might be anti-Semitic, or that I wanted to release a documentary to stand shoulder to shoulder with all the views of the documentary,” Irving said, adding: “How can you call someone an anti-Semite if you don’t know them?

But his tone was more thoughtful as he spoke for around 12 minutes on Sunday, thanking his family and friends for their support. Some, including National Basketball Players Association officials and Nets general manager Sean Marks, were in the room as he spoke.

“I didn’t want to hurt anyone, any group of people and yes, it’s a great moment for me because I’m able to learn through this process that the power of my voice is very strong, the influence that I have in me my community is very strong and I want to be responsible for it, “said Irving. “To do that, you have to admit when you are wrong and in cases where you hurt people and that affects them.”

Nike suspended its relationship with Irving and the fallout appeared to further strain the relationship between Irving and the Nets, who refused to grant him a contract extension last summer. He missed most of their home games last season when he refused to get a COVID-19 shot, as was mandatory at the time in New York.

The organization said he was “unfit to be associated with the Brooklyn Nets” when it suspended him. But the Nets praised Irving on Sunday for the steps he has taken since.

“Kyrie made this trip his own and had conversations with several members of the Jewish community,” the team said in a statement. “We are delighted that he is approaching the process in a meaningful way.”

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