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Brooklyn Nets suspend Kyrie Irving without pay for at least 5 games

Kyrie Irving suspended from Brooklyn Nets
Kyrie Irving suspended from Brooklyn Nets for at least five games 01:05

The Brooklyn Nets have suspended star guard Kyrie Irving without pay, the team announced Thursday, following a controversial tweet last week in which Irving appeared to support a documentary film that contains antisemitic ideas and several press conferences during which Irving refused to condemn antisemitism. The Nets said the suspension will last "no less" than five games.

In a statement, the organization said that it came to the decision after "repeated attempts to work with Kyrie Irving to help him understand the harm and danger of his words and actions, which began with him publicizing a film containing deeply disturbing antisemitic hate."

The team added that it was "dismayed" by a media session Thursday during which the 30-year-old Irving was asked by reporters directly if he held any antisemitic beliefs.

"Kyrie refused to unequivocally say he has no antisemitic beliefs, nor acknowledge specific hateful material in the film," the Nets said. "This was not the first time he had the opportunity — but failed — to clarify."

"Accordingly, we are of the view that he is currently unfit to be associated with the Brooklyn Nets," the team wrote. "We have decided that Kyrie will serve a suspension without pay until he satisfies a series of objective remedial measures that address the harmful impact of his conduct and the suspension period served is no less than five games."

The move comes after NBA Commissioner Adam Silver earlier Thursday said in his own statement that he was "disappointed" that Irving didn't offer an "unqualified apology and more specifically denounced the vile and harmful content contained in the film he chose to publicize," adding that he planned to meet with Irving next week to "discuss this situation."

Irving did finally apologize later in an Instagram post for not explaining the specific beliefs he agreed and disagreed with when he posted the documentary.

"To All Jewish families and Communities that are hurt and affected from my post, I am deeply sorry to have caused you pain, and I apologize," Irving wrote. "I initially reacted out of emotion to being unjustly labeled Anti-Semitic, instead of focusing on the healing process of my Jewish Brothers and Sisters that were hurt from the hateful remarks made in the Documentary."

His reluctance to do so earlier Thursday came hours before the FBI said it had received credible information about a "broad" threat to synagogues in New Jersey, Irving's home state.

The team had announced Wednesday in a joint statement with Irving and the Anti-Defamation League that Irving and the Nets would each donate $500,000 to anti-hate groups. 

In that statement, Irving wrote: "I oppose all forms of hatred and oppression and stand strong with communities that are marginalized and impacted every day."

He also said he was "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."

Following the announced suspension, ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt tweeted that the organization would not be accepting any donations from Irving.

"Kyrie Irving has been given ample opportunity to do the right thing, apologize and condemn #antisemitism," Greenblatt tweeted. "He has failed at almost every step along the way. This suspension is well-deserved."

"We were optimistic but after watching the debacle of a press conference, it's clear that Kyrie feels no accountability for his actions," Greenblatt added. "@ADL cannot in good conscience accept his donation."

The controversy began when Irving on Oct. 27 posted a link on Twitter to the film "Hebrews to Negroes: Wake Up Black America." The synopsis on Amazon said the 2018 film "uncovers the true identity of the Children of Israel."

The film is filled with conspiracy theories about Jewish people, including false claims that Jews dominated the slave trade. 

The following day, Nets owner Joe Tsai wrote on Twitter that he was "disappointed" that Irving appeared to support a film "based on a book full of antisemitic disinformation."

"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 wrote.

The tweet drew criticism from across the NBA community. Basketball Hall of Famer Charles Barkley said Tuesday on TNT, before the suspension had been announced, that he felt the NBA "dropped the ball" by allowing Irving to continue playing.

"I think he should have been suspended. I think Adam [Silver, NBA commissioner] should have suspended him," Barkley said.

-- The Associated Press contributed reporting.

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