WASHINGTON — NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said Thursday he does not believe Nets guard Kyrie Irving is anti-Semitic after meeting him at league headquarters in Manhattan this week. Irving faced backlash last month for promoting an anti-Semitic movie on Twitter.
“We had direct and honest conversations,” Silver, who is Jewish, said in an interview with The New York Times, adding, “He’s someone I’ve known for ten years, and I’ve never heard him anti-Semitic. The word or, frankly, hate against any group.”
In a subsequent phone conversation, Silver added: “Whether he is anti-Semitic or not has nothing to do with the damage done by posting hateful content.”
Silver declined to elaborate on his meeting with Irving, citing an agreement with Irving to keep details of their conversation private. Silver gave an interview to The Times after speaking at the Washington Sports Business Journal’s Dealmakers Conference, his first in the storm since Irving tweeted an Amazon link to an anti-Semitic film. Public appearance.
Asked about Irving, Silver suggested to attendees that Amazon has some responsibility for hosting the film on its platform.
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“I think Amazon has to make a decision as well,” Silver said. He added: “My first instinct was, for me, frankly, that Amazon Prime would have something so vile and hate speech in it.”
Silver told viewers that the social media post caused “huge damage” to Irving and “probably” to the team and the league. He added that he had “no doubt” that Irving was not anti-Semitic.
In an Oct. 27 Twitter post, Irving linked to the Amazon rental and purchase page for the 2018 film “Hebrew to Black: Awakening Black America,” which is full of anti-Semitic tropes and is based on the book of the same name . Three days later, Irving stepped down from the position. He has been criticized by the Anti-Defamation League, NBA players, fans, local politicians, Nets owners Tsai Chongxin and Silver, among others. In the week following his post, Irving did not apologize or say he had no anti-Semitic beliefs, prompting the Nets to indefinitely suspend him for at least five games. Irving could be eligible to return to the Nets’ road game against the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday.
The NBA and Nets faced criticism because Irving was not suspended by the team until Nov. 3, a week after his original job posting.
“I feel like we got the right result here in terms of his suspension,” Silver said. “In retrospect, we might have been able to get there faster. I accept that criticism. But I think it’s important to understand the context in which it was released to understand what disciplines were appropriate and not justify it in any way, while It’s about knowing which disciplines are appropriate.”
For the league office, Silver said, the film “requires some work and research from us to understand” what Irving posted. Silver also said he had seen the movie, about three and a half hours.
“Once we investigated, it became clear to me that this was indeed hate speech, and we responded with the Brooklyn Nets,” Silver said.
Silver said the Nets will decide “in consultation with the league” when Irving can return to the team. The Nets have shared some of the conditions for Irving’s return, including that he must meet with local Jewish leaders and the Nets. While Irving publicly apologized on Instagram following his suspension, it was unclear whether he would meet the team’s conditions. Irving and the Nets announced in a statement with the ADL last week that they will each donate $500,000 to anti-hate causes.
When asked if he was comfortable with the Nets’ terms, Silver said, “It’s being discussed right now.”
He added: “I think what I understand is that the Nets are looking to partner with Kyrie to find a suitable remedy. Because the most important thing here is that the remorse is real and genuine. I think This is best achieved through consent rather than conditions imposed on him.”
But others say the Nets’ terms are too onerous.Lakers forward LeBron James, who played with Irving in Cleveland twitter post Irving should be back on the court Thursday.
“I tell you, I don’t believe in sharing harmful information,” James said in his post, referring to his telling reporters last week that Irving’s post was harmful. “I’m going to keep doing that, but Kyrie apologised and he should be able to play.”
He continued: “That’s what I think. It’s that simple. Help him learn – but he’s supposed to be playing. I think what he’s been asked to do back on the court is going too far.”
James said that’s just his opinion, adding that Irving, “he’s not the guy he’s being portrayed as.”
When asked if he had responded to James’ post, Silver said “no” and opened up about Irving’s rights under the league’s collective bargaining agreement, represented by the NBA players union, which Irving serves as vice president.
“It’s something we have to address,” Silver said. “But at this point, we are working with Carey and his representatives to try to develop a remedial action plan.”