“I believe that what Kyrie did caused some harm to a lot of people,” James said after the Lakers lost 130-116 to the Utah Jazz on Friday, adding that he can't speak for why most of the league hasn't spoken against Irving.
After almost a week of doubling down and choosing not to apologize for sharing the documentary or his subsequent media comments, consequences have piled up for Irving. In addition to a five-game suspension without pay from the Brooklyn Nets, Irving's relationship with Nike has been suspended, the company announced Friday.
Irving issued an apology to the Jewish community on Instagram hours after his suspension was announced, and James acknowledged that apology doesn’t undo the impact of his actions.
“He apologized. But he caused some harm and I think it’s unfortunate," James said. "But I don’t stand on the position to harm people when it comes to your voice or your platform or anything. So it doesn’t matter what color your skin is, how tall you are, what position you’re in. If you are promoting or soliciting or saying harmful things to any community that harms people, then I don’t respect it. I don’t condone it.”
James and Irving played for the Cleveland Cavaliers as teammates from 2014 to 2017. They won an NBA title in 2016, before Irving demanded a trade in 2017 to Boston, a decision that he has since said was made without any ill will toward James.
“I can tell you this, it’s simple. Me personally, I don’t condone any hate to any kind,” James said. “To any race. To Jewish communities, to Black communities, to Asian communities. You guys know where I stand."
He went on to address the “The Shop” episode with rapper Kanye West that never aired in October. "We kicked that out of the archives. Because it was hate conversation going on there. And I don’t represent that. There’s no place in this world for it," James said.
James’ Springhill Company CEO Maverick Carter said he took full responsibility for welcoming West, who was facing backlash for wearing a “White Lives Matter” shirt and making controversial comments about Jewish people.
The 20-year NBA veteran expressed a hope for his former teammate to learn.
“I hope [Irving] understands what he did and the actions that he took are just harmful to a lot of people,” James said. “I really didn’t get into it too much. But, I understand that when you’re hurting anybody, I understand that. That is just common sense.”