Kyrie' Irving is not anti-Semitic, says NBA Commissioner Silver

The Nets suspended Irving for at least five games after he "refused to unequivocally say he has no antisemitic beliefs."

 NBA Commissioner Adam Silver at a game between the Cleveland Cavaliers and Washington Wizards at Verizon Center on November 21, 2014 in Washington, DC. (photo credit: Keith Allison VIA WIKIMEDIA COMMONS)
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver at a game between the Cleveland Cavaliers and Washington Wizards at Verizon Center on November 21, 2014 in Washington, DC.
(photo credit: Keith Allison VIA WIKIMEDIA COMMONS)

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said he met with Kyrie Irving earlier this week and that he did not believe the Brooklyn Nets guard was antisemitic, Yahoo Sports reported on Thursday.

Irving was heavily criticized for promoting a film that the seven-time All-Star has since said contained "false antisemitic statements."

The Nets suspended him for at least five games after he "refused to unequivocally say he has no antisemitic beliefs."

Irving later apologized to those "hurt from the hateful remarks made in the documentary."

"Based on what he said directly, to me (I) have no doubt that he's not antisemitic but I think there's a process that he's going to now need to go through," Silver said in Washington on Thursday, according to the website.

 Oct 29, 2022; Brooklyn, New York, USA; Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving (11) steps over Indiana Pacers guard Buddy Hield (24) after fighting for a loose ball in the second quarter at Barclays Center. (credit: WENDELL CRUZ-USA TODAY SPORTS) Oct 29, 2022; Brooklyn, New York, USA; Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving (11) steps over Indiana Pacers guard Buddy Hield (24) after fighting for a loose ball in the second quarter at Barclays Center. (credit: WENDELL CRUZ-USA TODAY SPORTS)

Commissioner Silver defends Kyrie

Silver, who is Jewish, told the New York Times he had a "direct and candid conversation" with Irving.

"He's someone I've known for a decade, and I've never heard an antisemitic word from him or, frankly, hate directed at any group," he said.

Silver added: "Whether or not he is antisemitic is not relevant to the damage caused by the posting of hateful content."

In addition to the suspension, Brooklyn outlined a list of six requirements he had to fulfill before rejoining the team.

They included apologizing, condemning the film, making a $500,000 donation to anti-hate causes and completing antisemitism training.

Irving's former teammate LeBron James said that while he did not believe in sharing "hurtful information," Irving should be allowed to return to the court following his apology.

"Help him learn - but he should be playing," James tweeted on Thursday.

"What he's asked to do to get back on the floor I think is excessive IMO. He's not the person that's being portrayed of him."

If he serves a five-game suspension, Irving would be available to play Nov. 13 against the Lakers in Los Angeles.