Kyrie Irving denies he's antisemitic after controversial tweet, while NBA releases statement condemning hate speech

Kyrie Irving took to Twitter once again Saturday morning, this time to address a previous offensive tweet. It was still a topic of conversation by the end of the Brooklyn Nets' game that day.

Irving garnered significant backlash Thursday when he shared a link to a documentary called "Hebrews to Negroes: Wake Up Black America," based on a book of the same name by Ronald Dalton Jr. Both the book and movie have been criticized for their antisemitic message.

“I am an OMNIST and I meant no disrespect to anyone’s religious beliefs,” Irving wrote, referring to a belief in all religions. "The ‘Anti-Semitic’ label that is being pushed on me is not justified and does not reflect the reality or truth I live in everyday."

He signed the tweet “Hélà,” his Lakota name, which means “Little Mountain.” Irving's late mother was a member of the tribe and lived on the reservation until her adoption at a young age. His late grandmother and great-grandparents also have ties to the reservation.

After sharing the documentary, Irving tweeted “now let me get ready for this business date I have tonight” and “The Light is beginning to Dawn,” bringing heightened scrutiny in the wake of rapper Kanye West’s blatantly antisemitic comments.

According to Rolling Stone, the documentary Irving shared puts forward "ideas in line with more extreme factions of the Black Hebrew Israelites, which have a long history of misogyny, homophobia, xenophobia, Islamophobia, and especially antisemitism.”

Kyrie Irving gets combative with reporters after Nets game

The Nets fell to 1-5 on the season Saturday with a 125-116 loss against the Indiana Pacers.

When questioned by reporters over his tweets after the game, Irving continuously doubled down and clashed with ESPN reporter Nick Friedell. After Irving said an Alex Jones conspiracy theory he posted on his Instagram account was true" while distancing himself from the radio host's Sandy Hook defamation, Friedell asked him about his "promotion" of the antisemitic movie and book.

Irving rejected the idea that posting videos to his social media accounts (17.5 million followers on Instagram, 4.5 million on Twitter) constituted promoting those videos, then implied the antisemitism of the video didn't matter.

NBA releases statement condemning hate speech, misspells 'antisemitic'

Hours after Irving's tweet, the NBA released a statement that did not mention the point guard by name, but condemned hate speech and pledged to challenge and refute antisemitic messages.

It took the league two tries to post the statement, as its initial release misspelled the word "antisemitic" as "antisemetic."

The league's statement was only part of a backlash that has slowly coalesced since Irving posted his tweet on Thursday. That included retired NBA veteran Richard Jefferson, currently working as color commentator for Nets games on the YES Network, who criticized not just the antisemitic video but also Irving's posting of a video from conspiracy theorist Alex Jones.

Jefferson's thoughts:

"It is disappointing, Kyrie says that he's not antisemitic and these things, but the tweet is still up. The tweet is still up there. Kyrie also earlier in the summer posted Alex Jones, who basically tortured a bunch of families here locally in Connecticut after the Sandy Hook tragedy. He was torturing those families and Kyrie reposted a video from this man.

"It wasn't about that specific thing, but you have to understand how you use your social media has effects and can affect people. If you are insensitive to that, then you are truly endorsing it. So to say that and not take it down, to repost Alex Jones, you are endorsing them."

On Friday, Brooklyn Nets owner Joe Tsai expressed public disappointment in Irving, calling the movie "full of anti-semitic disinformation.” He also expressed the desire to sit and talk about the issue with the point guard and remind him that “it is wrong to promote hate based on race, ethnicity or religion.”

The Nets also released a statement.

"The Brooklyn Nets strongly condemn and have no tolerance for the promotion of any form of hate speech. We believe that in these situations, our first action must be open, honest dialogue. We thank those, including the [Anti Defamation League], who have been supportive during this time."

Despite the Nets saying they have no tolerance for promoting hate speech in response to Irving, the player was still in the team's starting lineup with no restrictions on Saturday.

The team is currently 1-4, with Irving averaging 29.6 points, 5.4 rebounds and 4.4 assists this season.

MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - OCTOBER 26: Kyrie Irving #11 of the Brooklyn Nets during the first half of the game against the Milwaukee Bucks at Fiserv Forum on October 26, 2022 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by John Fisher/Getty Images)
Kyrie Irving of the Brooklyn Nets says he "meant no disrespect to anyone’s religious beliefs" in sharing controversial documentary (Photo by John Fisher/Getty Images).