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NBA Commissioner Adam Silver blasts Kyrie Irving for posting 'deeply offensive antisemitic material'

Silver wants the Brooklyn Nets guard to make an "unqualified apology."
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver; Brooklyn Nets player Kyrie Irving.
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver and Brooklyn Nets player Kyrie Irving.Getty Images

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver blasted Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving on Thursday, calling out his "reckless decision" to post "deeply offensive antisemitic material."

Irving has been roundly criticized since last week, when he tweeted a link to the 2018 movie “Hebrews to Negroes: Wake Up Black America,” which is based on Ronald Dalton’s book of the same name.

Rolling Stone magazine said the movie is filled with “antisemitic tropes" and seemingly adopts ideas that are more in line with those of extreme factions of the Black Hebrew Israelites, which have long been associated with homophobia, misogyny, xenophobia, antisemitism and Islamophobia.

“Kyrie Irving made a reckless decision to post a link to a film containing deeply offensive antisemitic material," Silver said in a statement

Irving said Wednesday he opposes all forms of bigotry as he and the Nets promised to each donate $500,000 to anti-hate groups. Still, he has not offered an unequivocal apology.

"While we appreciate the fact that he agreed to work with the Brooklyn Nets and the Anti-Defamation League to combat antisemitism and other forms of discrimination, I am disappointed that he has not offered an unqualified apology and more specifically denounced the vile and harmful content contained in the film he chose to publicize," Silver said.

Silver vowed to make his concerns known in a face-to-face meeting with Irving soon: "I will be meeting with Kyrie in person in the next week to discuss this situation.”

The league, the team and the greater NBA world have come under increasing criticism over the response to Irving, who is set to make about $37 million this season.

“I think the NBA dropped the ball,” Hall of Fame player and prominent basketball commentator Charles Barkley said on TNT this week.

“I think he should have been suspended. I think Adam should have suspended him. First of all, Adam’s Jewish. You can't take my $40 million and insult my religion. You're going to insult me, you have the right. But I have the right to say, 'No, you're not going to take my $40 million and insult my religion.'"

In September, the NBA fined Minnesota Timberwolves guard Anthony Edwards $40,000 for making anti-LGBTQ remarks in a video on his Instagram account.

"I think the NBA, they made a mistake" not taking immediate action against Irving, Barkley said. "We have suspended people and fined people who have made homophobic slurs, and that was the right thing to do. I think if you insult the Black community, you should be suspended or fined heavily."

Irving has added one more headache for the Nets, who have won just two of their first eight games this season. The sluggish start prompted the Nets to part ways with coach Steve Nash this week.

Irving played in just 29 games last season, in large part because of his refusal to get vaccinated against Covid-19, in violation of city codes mandating the shot at the time.

It is not the first time Irving has come under fire for promoting conspiracy theories and misinformation, among them that the Earth is flat and unfounded rhetoric favored by Alex Jones.