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NBA chief to push Nets’ Kyrie Irving to apologize for promoting antisemitic movie

Star basketball player has vowed to make $500,000 donation to anti-hate groups, admits film had ‘negative impact’ on Jewish community, but Adam Silver wants him to go further

In this file photo taken on October 24, 2016, Kyrie Irving, then #2 of the Cleveland Cavaliers, shakes hands with NBA commissioner Adam Silver as he receives his championship ring before the game against the New York Knicks at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. (EZRA SHAW/GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/AFP)
In this file photo taken on October 24, 2016, Kyrie Irving, then #2 of the Cleveland Cavaliers, shakes hands with NBA commissioner Adam Silver as he receives his championship ring before the game against the New York Knicks at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. (EZRA SHAW/GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/AFP)

NEW YORK — NBA commissioner Adam Silver said Thursday he will meet with Kyrie Irving in the next week to push for an apology from the Brooklyn Nets star for publicizing antisemitic material.

The move came a day after Irving announced he will make a $500,000 donation to groups working to eradicate hate and admitted a film slammed as antisemitic which he boosted on social media had a “negative impact” on the Jewish community.

Irving ignited a firestorm of controversy last week after posting a social media link to “Hebrews to Negroes: Wake Up Black America” — a 2018 film widely lambasted for containing a range of antisemitic tropes that was criticized by, among others, Nets owner Joe Tsai.

Silver, however, wants to see more from Irving than what he delivered in a statement announcing the donation, including an apology for his actions and the denouncing of the antisemitic content in the film.

“Kyrie Irving made a reckless decision to post a link to a film containing deeply offensive antisemitic material,” Silver said in a statement on Thursday.

“While we appreciate the fact that he agreed to work with the Brooklyn Nets and the Anti-Defamation League to combat antisemitism and other forms of discrimination, I am disappointed that he has not offered an unqualified apology and more specifically denounced the vile and harmful content contained in the film he chose to publicize,” he said in the statement, adding, “I will be meeting with Kyrie in person in the next week to discuss this situation.”

Kyrie Irving, #11 of the Brooklyn Nets, looks on from the bench during the second quarter of the game against the Chicago Bulls at Barclays Center on November 01, 2022 in New York City. (Dustin Satloff/GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/Getty Images via AFP)

In a joint statement, the Nets, Irving, and the Anti-Defamation League touched on the topics, but without the degree of criticism Silver seeks.

“I oppose all forms of hatred and oppression and stand strong with communities that are marginalized and impacted every day,” Irving said in the statement with the Nets. “I am aware of the negative impact of my post towards the Jewish community and I take responsibility. I do not believe everything said in the documentary was true or reflects my morals and principles.”

“I am a human being learning from all walks of life and I intend to do so with an open mind and a willingness to listen. So from my family and I, we meant no harm to any one group, race or religion of people, and wish to only be a beacon of truth and light,” he said.

The joint statement from Irving, the ADL and the Nets declared that the controversy “sparked many emotions” but that it will bring “greater awareness to the challenges we face as a society” with the financial contribution by Irving, “which will help create educational programs to fight bigotry and antisemitism.”

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