On Thursday evening, the Brooklyn Nets suspended Kyrie Irving without pay for a minimum of five games after the NBA star refused, for the second time, to apologize for a tweet that many saw as a form of anti-Semitic hate speech.
Irving posted a link to the 2018 movie "Hebrews to Negroes: Wake Up Black America,” last week, then twice refused to "unequivocally say he has no antisemitic beliefs," according to a Thursday night statement from the Nets.
"We were dismayed today, when given an opportunity in a media session, that Kyrie refused to unequivocally say he has no antisemitic beliefs, nor acknowledge specific hateful material in the film. This was not the first time he had the opportunity — but failed — to clarify," the statement read.
"Such failure to disavow antisemitism when given a clear opportunity to do so is deeply disturbing, is against the values of our organization, and constitutes conduct detrimental to the team. Accordingly, we are of the view that he is currently unfit to be associated with the Brooklyn Nets."
Just hours after the Nets announced his suspension, Irving apologized in an Instagram post.
"To All Jewish families and Communities that are hurt and affected from my post, I am deeply sorry to have caused you pain, and I apologize," Irving wrote.
On a recent episode of "Fearless," BlazeTV host Jason Whitlock said he believes Irving has been unfairly vilified and demonized over a "sentence-less" tweet about "a documentary that no one is watching." He compared Irving's tweet to HBO host Bill Maher's "anti-Christian" documentary “Religulous,” pointing out that no one called for HBO or corporations to discipline Maher.
"Fourteen years ago, you could write and star in a documentary with the expressed intention to offend, mock, and challenge conventional wisdom without people demanding that you lose your job," Whitlock stated.
Tuesday on “Inside the NBA,” Charles Barkley called for Irving's suspension, saying the “NBA dropped the ball” and "I can't believe we're talking about this idiot."
Shaquille O’Neal also called Irving an "idiot."
Whitlock, however, suggested there just might be another reason why Barkley and Shaq were really so outraged about Kyrie’s off-hours musings that they called for the NBA to suspend him.
"One tweet about a documentary no one is watching sparked this much outrage? I don’t think so," he said.
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