LeBron James defends Kyrie Irving, says reinstatement requirements are ‘excessive’

LeBron James says Kyrie Irving should be allowed to play.

The Los Angeles Lakers star took to Twitter on Thursday in defense of his former teammate, who has been suspended by the Brooklyn Nets following his latest scandal related to an antisemitic film he shared on social media.

James said Irving should be allowed to play again, and that the list of requirements the Nets are asking him to do is “excessive.”

Irving was suspended by the Nets for at least five games after he endorsed an antisemitic film on social media and then repeatedly doubled down. He refused to apologize or condemn antisemitism or back down from his stance, and reportedly ignored messages from Nets owner Joe Tsai.

Irving finally apologized on Instagram, but not until the Nets suspended him. Nike has since suspended its partnership with him, something that co-founder Phil Knight says will become a permanent move.

Irving met with NBA commissioner Adam Silver earlier this week.

In order for Irving to be reinstated by the Nets, Irving must reportedly complete the following steps:

  • Issue a verbal apology and condemn the antisemitic film he shared

  • Share that apology on social media

  • Complete sensitivity trainings

  • Meet with Jewish leaders in the Brooklyn community

  • Meet with Tsai

  • Make a $500,000 donation to anti-hate causes

Though James — who spent three seasons and won a title with Irving in Cleveland — didn’t get into the antisemitism that Irving was sharing, he said that Irving is “not the person that’s being portrayed of him” and that he “should be allowed to play.”

James isn’t the only NBA player who says Irving’s requirements are excessive, either. Boston Celtics star and NBPA vice president Jaylen Brown made similar comments earlier this week.

“The terms for his return, they seem like a lot, and a lot of the players expressed discomfort with the terms,” Brown said.

The NBPA — of which Irving is also a vice president — is reportedly planning to appeal his suspension.

LeBron James and Kyrie Irving
LeBron James advocated for Kyrie Irving on Twitter on Thursday amid the Nets star's suspension. (Mike Stobe/Getty Images)