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Kyrie Irving: 'Anti-semitic' label not justified, meant no disrespect to anyone's religious beliefs

Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving responded to team owner Joe Tsai who condemned the seven-time All Star after he promoted an antisemitic film and book.

On Thursday, Irving posted a link for the film “Hebrews to Negroes: Wake Up Black America” on social media.

Tsai said that the film is based on a book "full of antisemitic disinformation."

“I want to sit down and make sure he understands this is hurtful to all of us, and as a man of faith, it is wrong to promote hate based on race, ethnicity or religion,” Tsai wrote. "This is bigger than basketball."

Brooklyn Nets owner Joe Tsai said Friday he is disappointed that Kyrie Irving appears to support a film “based on a book full of antisemitic disinformation.”
Brooklyn Nets owner Joe Tsai said Friday he is disappointed that Kyrie Irving appears to support a film “based on a book full of antisemitic disinformation.”

“The Brooklyn Nets strongly condemn and have no tolerance for the promotion of any form of hate speech,” the team said in a statement. “We believe that in these situations, our first action must be open, honest dialogue. We thank those, including the ADL, who have been supportive during this time."

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Irving said in his own message on social media posted on Saturday that he isn't anti-semitic."

"I am an OMNIST and I meant no disrespect to anyone’s religious beliefs. 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," Irving said. "I embrace and want to learn from all walks of life and religions."

Later Saturday, the NBA posted a statement saying in part, "hate speech of any kind is unacceptable and runs counter to the NBA's values of equality, inclusion and respect." The statement did not mention Irving by name.

Following the Nets' game vs. the Pacers, Irving addressed his latest self-created controversy:

"I’m not going to stand down on anything I believe in," Irving said Saturday night. "I’m only going to get stronger because I’m not alone. I have a whole army around me." 

Irving entered Saturday averaging 29.6 points, 5.4 rebounds and 4.4 assists this season for Brooklyn. The Nets fell to 1-5 with Saturday's 125-116 loss.

Contributing: The Associated Press

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Kyrie Irving denies antisemitism after Brooklyn Nets owner's criticism