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1 Nov, 2022 11:32

Fans protest against NBA star after anti-Semitism scandal

Kyrie Irving tweeted a link to a controversial movie last week
Fans protest against NBA star after anti-Semitism scandal

Jewish basketball fans staged a protest against Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving on Monday night by wearing ‘Fight anti-Semitism’ T-shirts in courtside seats at his team’s game against the Indiana Pacers.

The Nets achieved only their second win of the season by beating their visitors 116-109 and improving to 2-5.

During the first quarter, however, broadcasters captured at least five fans with black ‘Fight Antisemitism’ T-shirts on the front row at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, a borough said to contain around half of New York City’s Jewish population that exceeds 1 million. 

The males of the group wore traditional Jewish yarmulke headwear, with the protestors said to have received a thumbs-up from Irving at one point of the game.

Irving has been in hot water due to tweeting a link to the film “Hebrews to Negroes: Wake Up Black America” on Thursday last week. The movie has widely been branded as anti-Semitic. 

Irving has since deleted his tweet, but in a heated post-game press conference on Saturday, he defended his right to share the link and vowed: “I’m not going to stand down on anything I believe in. I’m only going to get stronger because I’m not alone. I have a whole army around me.”

“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?” Irving also asked rhetorically. 

Irving was condemned by Nets owner Joseph Tsai, the franchise, and the league which denounced hate speech.

Nets coach Steve Nash confirmed that the team had spoken to Irving at the weekend and said on Monday that the controversy provides “an opportunity for us to grow and understand new perspectives.”

“I think the organization is trying to take that stance or they may communicate through this, and try to all come out in a better position and with more understanding and more empathy for every side of this debate and situation,” Nash explained.

Missing most of last season’s games due to his refusal to be vaccinated, which clashed with a New York City Covid mandate, Irving could be in his last term with the Nets after this latest controversy.

The franchise had the chance to offer the 30-year-old a contract extension in the off-season this summer but declined, meaning the guard will become a free agent after the Nets’ 2022-2023 campaign has concluded.