Kyrie Irving has apologized for sharing a link to an Amazon documentary which has been widely labeled as anti-Semitic, insisting he meant no harm by the post which caused furor.
The Brooklyn Nets superstar, who is expected to make his return from a franchise-imposed suspension Sunday, broke his media silence during an interview with SNY Saturday.
Irving has faced a barrage of criticism, ranging from the team’s front office to NBA Commissioner, Adam Silver, former NBA players and media for posting a link to the 2018 film ‘Hebrews to Negroes: Wake Up Black America.’
‘I’m not anti-Semitic, I never have been,’ Irving told SNY. ‘I don’t have hate in my heart for the Jewish people or anyone that identifies as a Jew. I’m not anti-Jewish.’
The controversial movie is based on a 2015 book by the same name, which Rolling Stone described as ‘venomously anti-Semitic.’ Many, including LeBron James, have come to Irving’s aid, challenging the notion that he could hold prejudicial beliefs against Jews.
‘I just want to apologize deeply for all of my actions throughout the time that it’s been since the post was first put in,’ Irving continued.
Kyrie Irving finally revealed his side of the anti-Semitism saga as he nears a return to the NBA
‘I’ve had a lot of time to think, but my focus initially – if I could do it over – would be to heal and repair a lot of my close relationships with my Jewish relatives.
‘I’ve always tried to stand up for what I believe in and stand up for those I feel like are being discriminated against based on their skin color or religion.
‘I stand with all of my brothers and sisters that are really doing the things necessary to bring harmony and peace to this world.’
Irving caught heat for posting a link to the film ‘Hebrews to Negroes: Wake Up Black America’
Irving quarreled with media as they attempted to clarify his position pre-suspension. During one press conference he told reporters ‘I’m not going to stand down on anything that I believe in.’
Quizzed as to why he didn’t simply explain himself in the beginning of the saga, Irving said he was ‘protecting’ himself.
‘I reacted out of just pure defense,’ he said. ‘And just hurt that I could be labeled, or I thought that I was being labeled as anti-Semitic or anti-Jewish, and I’ve felt like that was just so disrespectful to ask me whether or not I was anti-Semitic or not.’
After days of competing statements from Irving, the Nets, Tsai, and Silver at the time, Brooklyn indefinitely suspended the All-Star on November 3.
‘I’m a man who stands for peace,’ Irving confessed. ‘I don’t condone any hate speech or any prejudice.
‘And I don’t want to be in a position where I’m being misunderstood on where I stand on anti-Semitism or any hate for that matter for anybody in this world.’
The ex-Cav has faced a torrent of media and social media criticism for sharing an Amazon link
The Melbourne-born star received immense scrutiny for sharing the documentary despite offering no opinion alongside the link. For the first time, Irving clarified his reasoning for sharing the link, stating his intent was pure.
‘Number one, I meant no harm…I just went to look up my name Kyrie, which translates to Yahweh. And I wanted to share the link with all those that were also on the same journey and search for their heritage, as I am on.
‘The unfortunate aspect in that three-hour documentary is the anti-Semitic remarks in terms of generalizing people, and I believe that was unfair.
The Nets superstar has long considered himself a deep-thinker and a ‘voice for the voiceless’
‘That wasn’t the aspect of the post that I wanted the focus to be on. The initial post was supposed to be for all those that were searching for more information, more history and are able to interpret it in a way where they see it as progressive and they learn something from it.
‘Again, it was just a post. There was no context I put into it. I was just watching it to learn more about my heritage through a deeper dive into who I am. Unfortunately, in that process I hurt some people in that process and I’m sorry for that.
Irving went on to explain he was most intrigued by the documentary speaking to lost tribes of the world, largely relating to black people — striking at his yearning for knowledge of his lineage.
The open-minded Irving was suspended by the Brooklyn Nets organization indefinitely Nov. 3
‘Some things are meant to be explained, and I should’ve done that instead of being in this position now there are a bunch of assumptions and questions on what I meant and how I wanted it to be portrayed.
‘It wasn’t a promotion. It wasn’t something I was advocating for, in terms of the anti-Semitic remarks.’
If Irving does in fact return Sunday it will be intriguing to see what reception he gets from his home fans when Brooklyn host Ja Morant and the Memphis Grizzlies.