Ruh-Roh: Kyrie Irving Is On His Way To The Commissioner's Office

Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving (11) dribbles against the Chicago Bulls during the second half of an NBA basketball game Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2022, in New York.
Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving (11) dribbles against the Chicago Bulls during the second half of an NBA basketball game Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2022, in New York.

Elon Musk wants to charge $8 for blue checks on Twitter but for Kyrie Irving, tweeting is looking a lot more expensive.

The Brooklyn Nets point guard—and more to the point, Nets’ ownership—wants to bring an end to the controversy over Irving’s tweet about a film that many consider antisemitic, so both Irving and owner Joe Tsai are making $500,000 donations apiece to anti-discrimination charities and to work with the Anti-Defamation League on a new campaign, they announced Wednesday evening.

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That ain’t enough for NBA commissioner Adam Silver, who said in a statement Thursday morning that he was dissatisfied with the fact that Irving hadn’t issued a full-throated apology for his tweet.

“Kyrie Irving made a reckless decision to post a link to a film containing deeply offensive antisemitic material,” the statement read.

“While we appreciate the fact that he agreed to work with the Brooklyn Nets and the Anti-Defamation League to combat antisemitism and other forms of discrimination, I am disappointed that he has not offered an unqualified apology and more specifically denounced the vile and harmful content contained in the film he chose to publicize. “I will be meeting with Kyrie in person in the next week to discuss the situation.”

For those unfamiliar with Adam Silver-speak, what he said in plain English is, “This ain’t over, fam.”

Under Silver, the NBA has developed a track record as being either the most progressive of the four major U.S. sports leagues on issues of race, or at least the most aggressive in its punitive efforts against those who engage in hate speech. While the NFL is being sued by a group of Black current and former head coaches over racial discrimination, and by a white former head coach over who leaked emails containing his use of bigoted language, the NBA forced former Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling to sell the team in 2014 after recordings of him using racist language were leaked.

Robert Sarver, who owns the Phoenix Suns and the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury, is on the hunt for buyers after his repeated use of the n-word and other problematic behavior came to light earlier this year. Former U.S. Senator Kelly Loeffler and her partners were pushed to sell the Atlanta Dream to a group that includes former WNBA player Renee Montgomery after she disparaged players who kneeled in protest of police brutality.

Even with the announcement that Daniel Snyder is finally exploring a sale of his Washington Commanders, it’s tough to imagine not just one, but several NFL owners being pushed the hit the bricks over racist behavior, which is to say that the NBA absolutely not like the NFL. If the Association is willing to kick owners to the curb, Silver’s statement is a clear indication Irving is likely to face a heavier penalty than a self-imposed donation and a slap on the wrist.

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