Kyrie Irving will be back playing basketball again for the Brooklyn Nets after an emotional apology today. He was serving an indefinite suspension and had missed eight games for supporting a film containing antisemitic tropes. The Nets lifted his suspension an hour after the apology.
He will be part of the team facing Memphis Sunday night at Barclays Center.
“I just want to offer my deep apologies to all those who are impacted over these last few weeks, specifically my Jewish relatives, my black relatives, all races and cultures,” Irving said. “I feel like we all felt the impact. And I don’t stand for anything close to hate speech, or anti-Semitism or anything that is anti- going against the human race.
“I feel it was necessary for me to stand in this place and take accountability for my actions, because there was a way I should have handled all this. And as I look back and reflect, when I had the opportunity to offer my deep regrets to anyone that felt threatened or felt hurt by what I posted. That wasn’t my intent at all. I meant no harm to any person, any group of people.”
Irving was supported at the apology session by Brooklyn General Manager Sean Marks, agent Shetellia Riley Irving (also his stepmother), NBPA executive director Tamika Tremaglio and a league rep.
It marked the first time Irving had met with the assembled press since a testy interview after practice on Nov. 3. The All-Star was suspended the next day as a result of not only his initial Twitter and Instagram posts promoting the anti-Semitic film, but also his refusal to apologize.
Irving’s demeanor was far less defensive than his last attempt at a public apology on Nov. 3
“I mean, I was rightfully defensive that there was an assumption that I could be antisemitic, or that I meant to post the documentary to stand side-by-side with all the views of the documentary that I was defensive initially,” Irving admitted. “How can you call someone an antisemite when you don’t know them? How can you call their family out on things that we don’t have a track record of?
“I have no track record of anything like that. So for me to react that way, it was human, and I had to give myself some grace and give myself some time to go back home and reflect. And I just started really digging deeper into my family and talking with those that are Jewish and they felt hurt. And then I had some outside conversations with other Jewish individuals. And they were hurt as well.”
The Nets created a list of tasks that Irving had to complete in order to return, including meeting with Jewish leaders.
“Let’s clarify the list because I think it was inappropriate the way it was released and it somehow pinned me in the corner as if I was guilty of something, as if I was an antisemitic person, this label was placed upon me,” said Irving.
“Kyrie took ownership of his journey and had conversations with several members of the Jewish community,” the Nets said in a statement. “We are pleased that he is going about the process in a meaningful way.”