After being blocked from talking with reporters and making a donation to accompany a half-hearted statement, Kyrie Irving spoke publicly Thursday for the first time since the Brooklyn Nets guard was involved in a heated exchange relating to his promotion of a film featuring anti-Semitic ideologies.
Irving, however, left a lot to be desired in his second press conference since posting the link to the film, “Hebrews to Negroes: Wake Up Black America.” The Nets guard, again, stopped short of apologizing and deflected when asked if he has any anti-Semitic beliefs. Those two specific things, according to ESPN’s Nick Friedell, were what many around the league and within the Nets organization were hoping to hear.
NBA commissioner Adam Silver released a statement Thursday morning before Irving’s availability addressing his “reckless” decision and lack of apology. Irving followed that up by carefully expressing how he “took responsibility” for posting the link on social media.
“I take my responsibility for posting that,” Irving said, per ESPN. “Some things that were questionable in there, untrue. Like I said in the first time you guys asked me when I was sitting on that stage, I don’t believe everything that everybody posts — it’s a documentary. So I take my responsibility.”
Irving added: “I didn’t mean to cause any harm. I’m not the one that made the documentary.”
When asked specifically whether he had any anti-Semitic beliefs, Irving chose to not directly answer the question.
“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,” Irving said, per SNY. “But this is not going to turn into a spin-around cycle — questions upon questions. I told you guys how I felt. I respect all walks of life and embrace all walks of life. That’s where I sit.
“I cannot be anti-Semitic if I know where I come from,” Irving continued when tasked with a yes or no question.
Irving also was asked if he was surprised that his promotion of the film hurt people.
“Yeah, I think I can ask a better question: Where were you when I was a kid finding out that 300 million of my ancestors were buried in America?” Irving said, per SNY. “… I’m a beacon of light. That’s what I’m here to do.”
He added: “Any label you put on me I’m able to dismiss because I study. I know the Oxford dictionary.”
Silver, who is Jewish, shared how he will soon be meeting with Irving in person to discuss the situation. Neither the Nets or the NBA have suspended Irving, though his $500,000 donation will be matched by the team and go toward causes and organizations “that work to eradicate hate and intolerance in our communities.”