The Brooklyn Nets have reinstated suspended superstar guard Kyrie Irving from the team-imposed suspension. Irving, who spoke to the media for the first time since his suspension and reinstatement, issued his sincere apology and outlined key lessons to be learned from his social media controversy.
Irving stood in the Nets training facility press conference room and apologized for his actions, including sharing a link to a movie containing anti-Semitic tropes on his social media accounts.
The guard began his 14-minute press conference by expressing his remorse, how he should have handled things differently and how he harbors no hatred towards specific groups of people.
“I just want to extend my deepest apologies to everyone who has been affected over the past few weeks, especially my Jewish parents, my black parents, you know, all races and cultures,” Irving said Sunday morning. “I feel like we’ve all felt the impact. And I can’t stand anything that comes close to hate speech, or anti-Semitism, or anything that opposes the human race. J feel like we should all have the opportunity to speak for ourselves when things are being assumed about us and I think it was necessary for me to stand here and take responsibility for my actions because there was a way I should have handled it all.
“And looking back and reflecting, when I had the opportunity to express my deepest regret to anyone who felt threatened or hurt by what I posted. It was not my intention at all . I didn’t want to hurt anyone, any group of people.”
Among those present at Irving’s press conference were Brooklyn Nets general manager Sean Marks, NBA Players Association executive director Tamika Tremaglio and his agent Shetellia Riley Irving, who is also his mother-in-law. At his press conference, Irving often said he learned about the power of his platform and “the impact it can have if not supported in the right way.”
“I’m just going to go back to the emphasis on the press conference. It should have been the first day I dealt with all of this, just being here for anyone who thought it was anti-Semitic. I should have make it clear that I am not anti-Semitic. I am anti-nothing when it comes to how I live my life. The learning lesson for me has been the power of my platform and the impact that it can have if it’s not taken care of in the right way,” Irving said.
The Nets superstar guard has 22.5 million social media followers on his personal Twitter and Instagram accounts – the platforms on which Irving posted the controversial link. The chaos that followed his actions eventually led the Nets organization to impose the team-imposed suspension on him – a suspension that lasted eight games.
Irving provided a lengthy response when asked if he agreed with the movie — the movie he promoted on his social media accounts — the crux of the matter.
“That was the intention when I was watching the movie, it was to get a better understanding of my family heritage and where I come from,” Irving said. “And when I said I meant no harm, I meant it. Learning about the lost tribes of Israel, learning about black history in a way that doesn’t demean someone else’s story is important to me. And I want to stand on that truth to acknowledge the fact that I’m proud to know where I come from, and I’m still figuring it out as a 30-year-old man.
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Just hours after the organization suspended Irving, the guard took to his personal Instagram to offer his first apology about it. Local reporters asked him why he apologized instead of doing so in two separate media sessions before the suspension.
“I was legitimately on the defensive. Like that, there was an assumption that I might be anti-Semitic, or that I wanted to post the documentary to be side by side with all the views of the documentary that I was initially on the defensive , you know, how can you call someone an anti-Semite when you don’t know them? How can you call them, you know, call their family on things that we don’t have a history of?
“I have no history 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 time to go home and reflect and I just started, you know, really digging deeper into my family and talking with those who are Jewish and they felt hurt. And then I had outside conversations with other Jewish individuals. And they also hurt. And it could have been for different reasons. It’s not that they thought I was anti-Semitic, but there were things in the documentary that they didn’t necessarily want to see or that they didn’t want to see attributed to the Jewish faith. of the worst things we could do. And so, you know, I didn’t want to generalize – harmfully – the Jews, and it ended up being attached to my name and I felt defensive, but in the beginning, you know, when you’re about that emotion, I think you have to let her out.
“And I did and there were things that were misinterpreted and misunderstood. And those comments at the press conference, all I wanted to say was that I’m strong with people I’m from, you know, they’re giving me an offer me a very unique understanding of this world. And, you know, I just had the consequences of something that’s a conversation that’s bigger than me. Clearly .
At the start of his suspension, the Nets laid out a list of corrective tasks Irving needed to complete in order to return. One of these tasks was to meet with Jewish leaders. Irving explained how the meetings helped him offer “some clarity on a deeper understanding of what’s going on.”
“Dealing with different people within the Jewish community has given me a better understanding of what is going on and the impact that has been made and the harm that has been caused. That is why I am here to apologize. I thought it was necessary in my heart to extend the invitation to the olive branch not only to the Jewish community but to all the races of our world that I am here to listen and I am here to stand standing by your side against any issues that may afflict your community. greater than me and i am not alone in this. i know that everyone who shares the same alignment of seeing a more peaceful world is with me on this. So what I was able to learn was to sit down and think and have a conversation.”
Apologies were also part of the list of reported requirements. Irving expressed disappointment that the requirements were made public.
“Let’s clear up the list because I think the way it was posted was inappropriate and kind of pinned me in the corner like I was guilty of something. As if I was an anti-Semitic person, that label was placed on me.”
Irving has completed the multiple duties necessary to be reinstated by the organization, he is available for Brooklyn’s game Sunday night against the Memphis Grizzlies. In a statement, the Nets organization said they were delighted with the way their 30-year-old guard led the process.
“Kyrie [Irving] took ownership of his trip and had conversations with several members of the Jewish community,” the Brooklyn Nets said in a statement. “We are delighted that he is approaching the process in a meaningful way.”