NBA commissioner Adam Silver said he has “no doubt” that Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving is not antisemitic after the two had what Silver called “a direct and candid conversation” earlier this week at the league’s headquarters in New York.
Silver, who is Jewish, made his remarks in an interview with the New York Times on Thursday, two weeks after Irving made a controversial post that included a link to a film containing antisemitic ideas.
Irving’s post received massive backlash, including the Nets suspending him for at least five games and Nike’s co-founder Phil Knight announcing Thursday that the shoe company’s relationship with Irving 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 told the Times.
Silver added: “Whether or not he is antisemitic is not relevant to the damage caused by the posting of hateful content.”
Silver acknowledged to the Times that criticism the league and the Nets received for not disciplining Irving faster “may be fair.” Irving was suspended by the Nets on Nov. 3, one week after he posted his tweet, after he failed to formally apologize during a news conference earlier in the day. Irving issued an apology in an Instagram post later that night.
“I feel that we got to the right outcome here in terms of his suspension,” Silver said. “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 league wanted to do “a bit of work and research to understand” Irving’s post before deciding how to proceed. That included Silver himself watching the film.
“Once we did that investigation, it was clear to me that this was indeed hate speech and we, together with the Brooklyn Nets, did respond,” Silver said.
Irving has missed four games due to his suspension and could be eligible to return Sunday against the Los Angeles Lakers, though it is unclear when the Nets will reinstate him.
Silver said the Nets will decide when Irving can return in consultation with the NBA.
NBA’s Adam Silver — ‘No doubt’ Kyrie Irving is not antisemitic
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