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11 Nov, 2022 13:41

NBA chief insists controversial star is not anti-Semitic

Adam Silver has defended Kyrie Irving after speaking to him
NBA chief insists controversial star is not anti-Semitic

NBA commissioner Adam Silver has concluded that Kyrie Irving is not anti-Semitic following a meeting with the controversial Brooklyn Nets star.

Irving was banned by the Nets for at least five games and had his contract with Nike suspended after sharing a link to a film that contains anti-Semitic tropes.

Silver initially condemned Irving when the controversy broke out. After having a “direct and candid conversation” with the 30-year-old as he claimed to the New York Times, however, he doesn’t believe that the guard, who has since apologized to the Jewish community, is anti-Semitic.

“Based on what he said directly, to me (I) have no doubt that he's not anti-Semitic but I think there's a process that he’s going to now need to go through,” Silver said on Thursday, as reported by Yahoo Sport.

“He’s someone I've known for a decade, and I’ve never heard an anti-Semitic word from him or, frankly, hate directed at any group.” 

“Whether or not he is anti-Semitic is not relevant to the damage caused by the posting of hateful content,” Silver, who is Jewish, added.

Irving can return to action when he has undergone “remedial measures.” These are said to consist of six requirements, some of which Irving has already completed such as apologizing, condemning the film, and making a $500,000 donation to anti-hate causes.

Irving must also complete anti-Semitism training and meet with Jewish leaders. According to LeBron James, however, Irving should be allowed to return to the court already.

“I told you guys that I don’t believe in sharing hurtful information,” James tweeted. “And I’ll continue to be that way but Kyrie apologized and he should be able to play. That’s what I think. 

“It’s that simple. Help him learn – but he should be playing. What he’s asked to do to get back on the floor I think is excessive. He’s not the person that’s being portrayed of him,” James added.

Irving’s Brooklyn Nets and Nike contracts expire at the end of the ongoing 2022/2023 season and are unlikely to be renewed.

In an interview this week, Nike co-founder Phil Knight said “I would doubt that we go back,” with Irving, though he didn’t “know for sure.”

“Kyrie stepped over the line,” Knight added. “It's kind of that simple. He made some statements that we just can’t abide by and that’s why we ended the relationship. And I was fine with that.”