Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving apologized for sharing a post featuring an anti-semitic film which resulted in a five-game suspension by the team. File Photo by John G. Mabanglo/EPA-EFE
Nov. 20 (UPI) -- Point guard Kyrie Irving issued a formal apology for sharing a video featuring anti-Semitic sentiments during an interview, saying he does not have "hate in his heart" for Jewish people.
Irving was interviewed by SNY reporter Ian Begley on Saturday, coming off an eight-game suspension for sharing the video and refusing to apologize when given several opportunities. Irving said he wanted to "apologize deeply" for sharing a social media post citing a film and book that promotes harmful conspiracy theories about Jewish people.
"I'm not anti-Semetic," Irving said. "I never have been. I don't have hate in my heart for the Jewish people or anyone that identifies as a Jew. I'm not anti-Jewish or any of that."
Irving said it was hard to process the fallout from his post and comments, especially when it came to the public perception that arose from them. The Brooklyn Nets placed Irving on a minimum five-game suspension, which included corrective actions such as conversations with community leaders and education on the harmful effects of anti-semitism.
Team owner Joe Tsai, who was critical of Irving for refusing to apologize in the immediate aftermath of the post, said Irving does not have "any beliefs of hate towards Jewish people," after meeting with Irving last week. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, who is Jewish, said he also does not believe Irving has hatred toward "any group," but he did not discount the harm done by sharing "hateful content."
"The difficult aspect is just processing all this, understanding the power of my voice, the influence I have," Irving said. "I am no one's idol, but I am a human being that wants to make an impact and change. In order to do that I have to live responsibly and set a greater example for our youth. For my generation and the older generation."
Irving posted a written apology on social media on Nov. 4.
Sponsors such as Nike were quick to condemn Irving's actions, ending a longtime sponsorship with the polarizing star ahead of the highly anticipated release of the Kyrie 8s. The Nike Kyrie 7s are among the most popular shoes worn by NBA players.
Irving is listed as questionable to play against the Memphis Grizzlies on Sunday. His next opportunity to return to the floor will be Tuesday at Philadelphia against Joel Embiid and the 76ers. It will be the first meeting between expected Eastern Conference contenders this season. Irving's suspension has not officially been lifted, though the recent comments from Tsai indicate he is satisfied with Irving's progress through the team-imposed program.
Irving is averaging 26 points and 5 assists per game this season, but has only appeared in eight games. Brooklyn is off to a disappointing start at 7-9, in 10th place in the conference.