- Kyrie Irving has been suspended a minimum of five games for “failure to disavow anti-Semitism” and must complete several steps in order to return.
- LeBron James, who had called his former teammate’s actions hurtful, tweeted on Thursday that Irving should be playing.
- James is the second player to call the steps Irving must take to return excessive.
LeBron James on Thursday stood up for suspended Kyrie Irving, saying that the Brooklyn Nets star should be back on the court.
Irving was suspended for a minimum of five games by the Nets last week for “failure to disavow anti-Semitism.”
Irving became embroiled in a firestorm when he shared a link on social media to a film with anti-Semitic material, which included denying the Holocaust. Asked by reporters about the film and his own beliefs in the aftermath, Irving grew defensive. Though he said he took responsibility for sharing the film, he never apologized or directly said he was not anti-Semitic during several media sessions. The Nets eventually suspended him, saying he was “unfit” to play for the team until he apologized.
James, who previously called Irving’s behavior hurtful, tweeted on Thursday that Irving’s punishment has been “excessive.”
—LeBron James (@KingJames) November 10, 2022
In addition to his suspension and apology, the Nets also outlined six steps Irving must take in order to return, according to The Athletic’s Shams Charania. Those include sensitivity trainings, donations, and meeting with the Anti-Defamation League and Jewish leaders.
Irving has already missed four games. The Nets have gone 3-1 in his absence.
James is the second player to speak up on Irving’s behalf. The Boston Celtics’ Jaylen Brown, who is also vice president of the players’ association, also called the requirements for Irving’s return too steep.
“The terms for his return, they seem like a lot, and a lot of the players expressed discomfort with the terms,” Brown told The Boston Globe’s Gary Washburn.
“He made a mistake. He posted something. There was no distinction. Maybe we can move forward, but the terms in which he has to fulfill to return, I think not just speaking for me, speaking as a vice president from a lot of our players, we didn’t agree with the terms that was required for him to come back and we’re waiting for this Tuesday meeting to happen, to see what comes of it. But we’ll go from there.”
At an event on Thursday, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said after speaking to Irving he didn’t believe Irving is anti-Semitic. Last week, Silver had released his own statement expressing dismay over Irving’s lack of an apology.
“I personally, based on what he said directly to me, have no doubt that he’s not anti-Semitic, but I think there’s a process that he now needs to go through,” Silver said, according to The New York Times’ Sopan Deb. “I think he understands that, and incidentally, it’s now with the Nets, who are working on the specifics.”