Commissioner Adam Silver recently said that he has “no doubt” that Kyrie Irving isn’t antisemitic after the two had a “direct and candid conversation” when the two figures met earlier this week at the League’s HQ in New York.
Silver and Irving met two weeks after the embattled Nets guard posted an Amazon link to a controversial film that featured antisemitic messaging. Irving’s post led to Brooklyn suspending him for at least five games and Nike suspending his deal. Nike co-founder Phil Knight said that the business relationship between the legendary sports apparel company and the former Duke Blue Devil is likely severed for good.
“He’s someone I’ve known for a decade, and I’ve never heard an antisemitic word from him or, frankly, hate directed at any group,” Silver said, according to the New York Times.
“Whether or not he is antisemitic is not relevant to the damage caused by the posting of hateful content.
Silver acknowledged that the criticism the League and Nets received for not disciplining Irving faster “may be fair.” Irving was suspended on Nov. 3, a week after he posted his tweet, for not formally apologizing during a news conference he had earlier that day. Irving posted an apology statement on Instagram later that night.
When asked about Irving’s indefinite suspension, Silver told the Times that he thinks the Nets “got the right outcome.” Silver clarified that the League wanted to do “a bit of work and research to understand” Irving’s post, and that information confirmed that the film featured hate speech, which led to the Nets and the League suspending Irving.
“I feel that we got to the right outcome here regarding his suspension,” Silver told the Times. “And in retrospect, we may have been able to get there faster. I accept that criticism. But I felt it was important to understand the context in which it was posted to understand what discipline was appropriate, not in any way to excuse it but to understand what discipline was appropriate.”
Silver said the Nets would consult with the League regarding Irving’s return. Players union leaders CJ McCollum and Jaylen Brown have both called out the conditions of Irving’s return, calling it an “issue” and that it’s “asking for a lot.” Former Irving teammate LeBron James called the list “excessive” on Twitter.
According to insiders Adrian Wojnarowski and Shams Charania, Irving will have a set of conditions to meet before he can return, including a public statement recognizing the film is antisemitic, an apology for supporting the film and the falsehoods within the film, training sessions on the dangers of hate speech, and demonstrating that he understands the severity of the situation with Nets owner Joe Tsai.