Kyrie Irving Takes Responsibility for Promoting Antisemitic Film, but Stops Short of Apologizing

kyrie irving
kyrie irving

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Kyrie Irving and the Brooklyn Nets announced Wednesday that they each will be donating $500,000 to organizations in an effort to "eradicate hate and intolerance," a week after the NBA star promoted an antisemitic film on social media.

In a statement connected to the $1 million donation, Irving, 30, recognized the harmful nature of his post — in which he shared a link promoting a 2018 movie based on the 2014 book Hebrews to Negroes: Wake Up Black America — but did not outright apologize.

"I oppose all forms of hatred and oppression and stand strong with communities that are marginalized and impacted every day," Irving said in a joint statement with the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and the Nets. "I am aware of the negative impact of my post towards the Jewish community and I take responsibility. I do not believe everything said in the documentary was true or reflects my morals and principles. I am a human being learning from all walks of life and I intend to do so with an open mind and a willingness to listen."

RELATED: Charles Barkley Says NBA 'Should Have' Suspended Kyrie Irving After He Promoted Antisemitic Film

Irving wrapped his statement by adding that he "meant no harm to any one group, race or religion of people" and that he wishes to be a "beacon of truth and light."

The film, originally written as a book by Ronald Dalton in 2014, contains antisemitic tropes and stereotypes, according to Rolling Stone, including extreme views of Black Hebrew Israelites, who argue that Black people are the only true descendants of ancient Israelites. The Southern Poverty Law Center reports that the Radical Hebrew Israelites "perpetuate the antisemitic belief that 'so-called' Jews have stolen their identity and 'birthright,' " while the Anti-Defamation League notes that the Black Israelite Movement is divided into organizations that "operate semi-independently," and not all are antisemitic.

Kyrie previously shared on Twitter that he "meant no disrespect to anyone's religious beliefs" by sharing the post. "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 wrote. "I embrace and want to learn from all walks of life and religions. Hélà🤞🏾♾"

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Along with the donation, the Nets will host community conversations at the Barclays Center with civil rights organizations, including the ADL, whose CEO Jonathan Greenblatt said in a statement that "antisemitism has reached historic levels."

"With this partnership, ADL will work with the Nets and Kyrie to open dialogue and increase understanding," Greenblatt said.

RELATED: Nets Condemn Kyrie Irving's Perceived Support of Antisemitic Film: 'This Is Bigger Than Basketball'

Kyrie Irving
Kyrie Irving

Brian Sevald/NBAE via Getty Kyrie Irving

The Nets organization previously shared its disapproval of Irving's promotion of the film, with team owner Joe Tsai tweeting that he was disappointed. Fans did so as well, with some wearing "fight antisemitism" shirts as they sat courtside at a Nets game on Monday night. Irving has since deleted the tweet.

"I'm disappointed that Kyrie appears to support a film based on a book full of antisemitic disinformation," Tsai said in a pair of tweets. "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. This is bigger than basketball."

Others like Charles Barkley have also offered criticisms, with the NBA legend saying on Inside the NBA that he thinks Irving "should have been suspended" after he promoted the film. He told co-hosts Shaquille O'Neal, Kenny Smith, and Ernie Johnson, "the NBA made a mistake" in not suspending him. He added that the star needs to be more responsible with his platform as a major athlete.

"We have suspended people and fined people who have made homophobic slurs, and that was the right thing to do," Barkley said.