Kyrie Irving Makes NBA Return After 8-Game Suspension for Antisemitic Tweet: 'I'm Here to Listen'

Kyrie Irving #11 of the Brooklyn Nets looks on during Round 2, Game 4 of the 2021 NBA Playoffs on June 13 2021 at the Fiserv Forum Center in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Kyrie Irving #11 of the Brooklyn Nets looks on during Round 2, Game 4 of the 2021 NBA Playoffs on June 13 2021 at the Fiserv Forum Center in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty

Kyrie Irving is back on the hardwood.

Following what became an eight-game suspension after the NBA superstar, 30, shared a link to an antisemitic film on Twitter last month and "refused to unequivocally say he has no antisemitic beliefs," Irving is back on the Nets.

In his return to regular-season play on Sunday, the Nets beat the Memphis Grizzlies 127-115, with Irving earning 14 points in the process for Brooklyn.

Speaking before the game, Irving said, "I don't stand for anything close to hate speech, or antisemitism, or anything that is anti going against the human race," per ESPN. "I feel like we all should have an opportunity to speak for ourselves when things are assumed about us. And I feel it was necessary for me to stand in this place and take accountability for my actions because there was a way I should have handled all of this."

RELATED: Brooklyn Nets Suspend Kyrie Irving for 'No Less Than 5 Games' After Antisemitic Post

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 01: Kyrie Irving #11 of the Brooklyn Nets brings the ball up the court during the fourth quarter of the game against the Chicago Bulls at Barclays Center on November 01, 2022 in New York City. 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 Dustin Satloff/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 01: Kyrie Irving #11 of the Brooklyn Nets brings the ball up the court during the fourth quarter of the game against the Chicago Bulls at Barclays Center on November 01, 2022 in New York City. 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 Dustin Satloff/Getty Images)

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Kyrie's return to the league comes after he tweeted a link promoting a 2018 movie based on the 2014 book Hebrews to Negroes: Wake Up Black America on Oct. 27. The film, originally written as a book, includes several antisemitic tropes and stereotypes, according to Rolling Stone, and features extreme views of Black Hebrew Israelites, who argue that Black people are the only true descendants of ancient Israelites.

Less than a week later, Irving issued a statement alongside the Brooklyn Nets and Anti-Defamation League that they'd be donating $1 million in total to organizations in an effort to "eradicate hate and intolerance."

While Irving did not directly apologize in his statement at the time, he said he opposed "all forms of hatred and oppression and stand strong with communities that are marginalized and impacted every day." The Nets announced just days later that Kyrie was suspended for at least five games without pay, after the team claims it made multiple attempts over the week to help the point guard "understand the harm and danger of his words and actions."

RELATED: Kyrie Irving 'Deeply Sorry' to Jewish Community for Causing 'Pain' by Spotlighting Antisemitic Film

As a path to return to regular season play, the team gave Irving a "series of objective remedial measures that address the harmful impact of his conduct," including meeting with Jewish leaders. Irving issued an apology later in the week, and reiterated some of his thoughts before Sunday's game.

"I meant no harm to any person, any group of people," Irving said, per ESPN. "And yeah, this is a big moment for me because I'm able to learn throughout this process that the power of my voice is very strong. The influence that I have within my community is very strong. And I want to be responsible for that. In order to do that, we have to admit when you were wrong and instances where you hurt people and it impacts them."

Irving later explained that he should've been "there for all those that felt like this was antisemitic" right after sharing the tweet, and added that he also "should have clarified that I am not antisemitic and I am not anti-anything when it comes to the way I live my life."

"So the learning lesson for me was just the power of my platform and the impact that it can cause if it's not taken care of the right way. So meeting with different people within the Jewish community has offered me some clarity on a deeper understanding of what's going on and the impact that was made and the hurt that was caused," Kyrie said. "That's why I'm here apologizing. Because I felt it was necessary in my heart to extend the olive branch, the invitation, to let everyone know, not just in the Jewish community, but all races in our world, that I'm here to listen and I'm here to stand with you against any issues that may be plaguing your community. This fight is much bigger than myself, and I'm not alone in this."

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The Nets issued a statement on Sunday regarding Irving's return: "Kyrie took ownership of his journey and had conversations with several members of the Jewish community. We are pleased that he is going about the process in a meaningful way."

Before the game kicked off Sunday, a group from Israel United in Christ, which ESPN reports is designated as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, handed out fliers that read "The Truth About Anti-Semitism" and "The Truth about Slavery." Jaylen Brown of the Celtics retweeted a video of the group with the caption "energy," before clarifying that he mistook them for a fraternity and was "not aware of what specific group that was outside of Barclay's Center tonight."

Irving's next game with the Nets is Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. as they face off against the Philadelphia 76ers at the Wells Fargo Center.