The Brooklyn Nets suspended Kyrie Irving on Thursday for “failure to disavow antisemitism,” but the organization “never considered releasing” the guard, general manager Sean Marks said Friday morning.
Marks and Kevin Durant both addressed reporters during practice media availability.
Marks added that while Irving’s apology was a “good first step,” the organization will require him to use the five-game suspension without pay to “meet with Jewish leaders” and make other efforts, including counseling so that they organization can "evaluate" regarding the "right opportunity to bring him back."
When asked about Irving’s conduct, Durant said “I felt like it was all unnecessary. I felt like we could have just kept playing basketball and kept quiet as an organization.”
Durant added that it’s not his intention to judge anyone, and he “just didn't like anything that went on.”
His explanation for this week's turmoil: “media, so many outlets now and their stories hit pretty fast now. So that's where all the chaos is coming from. Everybody has an opinion on the situation, and we're hearing it nonstop.
KD: "This is the way the #NBA is now, media, so many outlets now and their stories hit pretty fast now. So that's where all the chaos is coming from. Everybody has an opinion on the situation, and we're hearing it nonstop." #Nets
— Brian Lewis (@NYPost_Lewis) November 4, 2022
After seeing the response, Durant clarified his shootaround comments on Twitter, writing “I see some people are confused..I don’t condone hate speech or anti-semitism, I’m about spreading love always. Our game Unites people and I wanna make sure that’s at the forefront.”
Kyrie Irving in “all the chaos”
Days after sharing a link to a controversial documentary, Irving apologized to the Jewish community with a statement on Instagram, hours after being suspended. Though the statement maintained Irving agrees with some aspects of the documentary he shared on Twitter, he admitted that it "contained some false anti-Semitic statements, narratives, and languages that were untrue and offensive to the Jewish Race/Religion."
Irving did accept some culpability Wednesday, when the Nets released a statement alongside the Anti-Defamation League quoting him as saying he took responsibility for "the negative impact" of his post on the Jewish community.
Things seemed to really unravel Thursday, when Irving failed to say he holds no antisemitic beliefs when asked by press. The Nets said they were "dismayed” and chose to suspend him. After that decision, the Anti-Defamation League decided not to accept the $500,000 donation Irving and the Nets pledged in their statement.
Team owner Joe Tsai held out hope to avoid suspension
Nets team owner Joe Tsai was one of the first to directly address Irving about his social media activity.
"I’m disappointed that Kyrie appears to support a film based on a book full of anti-semitic 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 day after Irving shared the link.
Now, reports say that Irving and Tsai were never able to have a conversation. "For nearly a week, Tsai kept extending the clock to give Irving a chance to get this right for himself, the franchise and the Jewish community — and Irving never returned a single of his text messages," ESPN's sources said.
Almost a week later, with no apology or response from Irving, a condemning message from NBA commissioner Adam Silver came Thursday morning, with more mentions of a meeting with Kyrie.
NBA commissioner Adam Silver statement on Kyrie Irving: “…I am disappointed that he has not offered an unqualified apology… I will be meeting with Kyrie in person in the next week to discuss this situation.” pic.twitter.com/9u1Y2j2jBw
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) November 3, 2022
ESPN's sources also say Tsai wanted "time and space to work together with the ADL and Irving," but there was no direct dialogue with Irving.
Because of this, Silver advised Tsai against the joint statement with the ADL, ESPN says. Silver's reported concerns have since been vindicated. The statement was ineffective and Tsai and the Nets suspended Irving the next day, calling him "currently unfit to be associated with the Brooklyn Nets."