JTA — The Detroit Pistons wished Brooklyn Nets star guard Kyrie Irving a happy Hanukkah on Sunday night, the first night of the Jewish holiday, during an NBA basketball match in the US.
The Pistons appeared to be trolling Irving, who recently shared an antisemitic film on Twitter and initially refused to apologize.
The scoreboard displayed both a spinning globe and a Hanukkah graphic with a menorah while he was at the free-throw line.
The former is in reference to previous comments the controversial All-Star has made about the earth being flat. The latter appeared to be a pointed reference to the recent antisemitism scandal.
Irving was suspended for eight games in November after he tweeted an Amazon link to “Hebrews to Negroes: Wake Up Black America,” a documentary that promotes the false idea that Jews were heavily involved in the Atlantic slave trade, denies the Holocaust and says Black people are the real Jews.
Irving initially refused to apologize, saying, “I cannot be antisemitic if I know where I come from.” In addition to his suspension, Irving lost his deal with sportswear giant Nike.
The Pistons' scoreboard put up graphics during last night's game against the Nets, aimed at Kyrie Irving.
It featured a spinning globe, followed by a Happy Hanukkah sign when Irving was shooting his free throws.
— ClutchPoints (@ClutchPointsApp) December 19, 2022
Irving ultimately apologized, multiple times. As he returned to the Nets on November 20, he said, “I don’t stand for anything close to hate speech or antisemitism.” That same day, a group of Black Hebrew Israelites rallied outside Barclays Center, echoing themes presented in the film.
Irving and the Nets got the last laugh Sunday, defeating the Pistons 124-121. Brooklyn has won nine of its past 10 games.
Also this season, the Pistons have helped celebrate the ascension of Orthodox Jewish prospect Ryan Turell, who plays for the organization’s minor league affiliate, the Motor City Cruise. The team has offered kosher hot dogs at the Cruise arena, hosted a Jewish Heritage Night, and more.
Turell, who has attracted dozens of Jewish fans to Cruise games, has been sporting a Pistons-branded yarmulke.