Brooklyn Nets Star Kyrie Irving Defends Promotion of ‘Antisemitic’ Slave Trade Documentary
Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving has doubled down on his promotion of a documentary film that allegedly pushes antisemitic tropes about the relationship between Jews and the slave trade, despite condemnation from the owner of the NBA franchise.
Speaking after the Nets lost to the Indiana Pacers on Saturday night, Irving said he was “not going to stand down on anything I believe in” in response to a question about his tweet pushing “Hebrews to Negroes: Wake Up Black America,” a 2018 film described by Rolling Stone as “stuffed with antisemitic tropes.”
“So the claims of antisemitism and who are the original chosen people of God and we go into these religious conversations and it’s a big no, no, I don’t live my life that way,” Irving added.
Irving came in for strong criticism from Nets owner Joe Tsai, who said in a tweet that he was “disappointed that Kyrie appears to support a film based on a book full of antisemitic disinformation.”
Tsai said he wanted 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.”
However, Irving summarily rejected Tsai’s criticism. Stressing that he “respected” Tsai’s perspective, Irving then asked: “Did I do anything illegal? Did I hurt anybody, did I harm anybody? Am I going out and saying that I hate one specific group of people?”
Several Jewish groups condemned Irving, among them the Anti-Defamation League (ADL).
“The book and film he promotes trade in deeply antisemitic themes, including those promoted by dangerous sects of the Black Hebrew Israelites movement,” ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt tweeted. “Irving should clarify now.”