Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving was given another opportunity on Thursday to publicly denounce the antisemitic material included in the film he shared last week to his millions of followers on social media.
Once again, Irving fell short of "an unqualified apology."
Kyrie Irving is asked if he has any anti-Semitic beliefs: pic.twitter.com/hHI8FFqMbs
— Nets Videos (@SNYNets) November 3, 2022
"Again, I'm going to repeat: I don't know how the label becomes justified, because you guys ask me the same questions over and over again, but this is not going to turn into a spin-around cycle of questions upon questions," Irving told reporters on Thursday, his second media session since sharing the film a week ago. "I told you guys how I felt. I respect all walks of life and embrace all walks of life. That's where I sit."
Asked for a yes or no answer if he has any antisemitic beliefs, Irving said, "I cannot be antisemitic if I know where I come from." He was asked by another reporter what that means and repeated the same sentiment.
Irving continued on a three-minute diatribe when asked if he was surprised that his actions hurt people:
"I'm a beacon of light. I'm not afraid of these mics, these cameras. Any label you put on me I'm able to dismiss because I study. I know the Oxford dictionary."
Kyrie Irving with a lengthy answer on the public reaction to his sharing of an anti-Semitic film on social media: pic.twitter.com/JgG9hOFQiU
— Nets Videos (@SNYNets) November 3, 2022
"I can ask a better question: Where were you when I was a kid figuring out that 300 million of my ancestors are buried in America? Where were you guys asking those same questions when I was a kid dealing with learning about the traumatic events of my familial history and where I'm proud to come from and why I'm proud to stand here and why, when I repeat myself that I'm not going to stand down, it has nothing to do with dismissing any other race or group of people?
"I am just proud of my heritage and what we've been through, and the fact that this has pinned me against the Jewish community and I'm here answering questions about whether or not I'm sorry on something I didn't create, and it was something I shared, and I'm telling everybody I'm taking responsibility, then that's where I sit. These same questions that you guys ask, me dealing with it as being a melanated, pigmented person, all around the world, and dealing with racial biases against my skin color, demeaning me because of my religious beliefs, and I'm still sitting in this seat standing, so 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.
"But I'm also a human being that's 30 years old, and I've been growing up in a country that's told me I wasn't worth anything and I came from a slave class and that I come from a people who are meant to be treated the way that we get treated every day. So, I'm not here to compare anyone's atrocities or tragic events that their families have dealt for with generations of time. I'm just here to continue to expose things that our world continues to put in darkness.
"I'm a light. I'm a beacon of light. It's what I'm here to do. You guys ask me questions about basketball, I give you my expert opinion. You guys ask me about other things, I give you my opinion, and it's met with whatever you believe the perception or the deception is. You guys investigate my life every day, and you justify it by serving your own purpose, which I honor.
"I would like the same respect in return. I'm figuring it out just like anyone else, so please keep that same energy when we're talking about anti- other things. Just because I post a documentary doesn't mean I'm antisemitic and doesn't mean that I'm automatically standing with everyone that is believing in that, so it's unfortunate timing that we're in, but I'm glad that I could stand on the truth, because I'm not afraid of these mics, these cameras.
"I used to be — looking everyone in the eye and telling them the truth, that I'm proud of who I am. Any label you put on me, I'm able to dismiss, because I study. I know the Oxford dictionary. You can look it up, right? One of the biggest mistakes I had in being a kid was not knowing European or Western language, until I started looking it up and understanding the definitions and why they say, 'If you want to trick a Black person, put it in a book.' I was wondering my whole life why they said that. Now, I'm 30 years old, and I know that reading is a superstar, because it helps me understand where I'm going and where I come from, like a tree with roots."
Irving became a member of his late mother's Standing Rock Sioux tribe in 2018.
The seven-time All-Star's latest explanation came moments after NBA commissioner Adam Silver issued a statement on Thursday, calling for Irving to issue "an unqualified apology" and denounce antisemitism.
“Kyrie Irving made a reckless decision to post a link to a film containing deeply offensive antisemitic material," Silver said in his statement. "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. I will be meeting with Kyrie in person in the next week to discuss this situation.”
Last week, Irving shared a link on Twitter to the film "Hebrews to Negroes: Wake Up Black America." The material is grounded in antisemitism, including Holocaust denial and a baseless quote from Adolf Hitler. At its core, the film implies that modern-day Jewish people stole their identity from Black people, enslaved them and blackmailed America by assuming control of corporate media, all in pursuit of world domination.
Irving has yet to denounce the tropes pushed forth by the film in their entirety and has on several occasions seemingly embraced them. In a contentious news conference on Saturday, he implied the film contained "the truth of our world," along with another clip he shared of Alex Jones espousing beliefs in a "New World Order," which is also rooted in antisemitism, according to experts.
Even in Irving's joint statement with the Anti-Defamation League and the Nets on Wednesday, when each pledged to donate $500,000 to "causes and organizations that work to eradicate hate and intolerance in our communities," he suggested there were aspects of the film he believed. Asked on Thursday what in the film he considers to be untrue, Irving said, "Some of the criticism of the Jewish faith and the community."
– – – – – – –