NBA-Brooklyn Nets suspend Kyrie Irving, saying he refuses to disavow anti-semitism

FILE PHOTO: Jun 23, 2022; Brooklyn, NY, USA; NBA commissioner Adam Silver speaks before the first round of the 2022 NBA Draft at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner

(Reuters) -The Brooklyn Nets on Thursday suspended guard Kyrie Irving, saying that he was still refusing to disavow an anti-semitic documentary since posting a link to the film on social media.

Irving has been under fire since posting the link last week and initially defended doing so during a contentious post-game news conference over the weekend.

The seven-time All-Star has since deleted the post and in a press conference earlier on Thursday said he meant no harm. He took responsibility for posting the link but did not specifically denounce the film or its message.

"We were dismayed today, when given an opportunity in a media session, that Kyrie refused to unequivocally say he has no anti-semitic beliefs, nor acknowledge specific hateful material in the film," the Nets said in a statement announcing his suspension. "This was not the first time he had the opportunity - but failed - to clarify."

In a joint statement on Wednesday with the Nets and Anti-Defamation League, Irving said he opposed all forms of hatred. Irving and the Nets also said they would each donate $500,000 toward organizations that work to eradicate hate.

The NBA and union representing its players issued statements condemning hate speech but neither mentioned Irving by name until Silver's comments were distributed.

"Kyrie Irving made a reckless decision to post a link to a film containing deeply offensive anti-Semitic material," Silver said in a statement.

"While we appreciate the fact that he agreed to work with the Brooklyn Nets and the Anti-Defamation League to combat anti-Semitism 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."

(Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto; additional reporting by Dan Whitcomb in Los Angeles; Editing by Ken Ferris and Ed Osmond)

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