Kyrie Irving, one of the National Basketball Association’s most popular and dynamic players, has been caught in serious trouble over a series of Twitter posts, specifically regarding antisemitic rhetoric. The Brooklyn Nets have suspended Irving without pay for five games, but some voices around the league are calling for harsher punishment. This news comes on the heels of another celebrity scandal; Kanye West made similar antisemitic comments and was ultimately dropped by numerous sponsors, including his longtime clothing partner, Adidas. Similarly, Irving has been stripped of his sponsorship with Nike, and the release of his new shoe, the Kyrie 8, has been canceled. 

On Oct. 27, Irving issued several tweets regarding the promotion of the Black Hebrew Israelites group. The Black Hebrew Israelites are groups of African Americans who claim that they are directly associated with the ancient Israelites. The Jewish community does not associate with the group, and the Anti-Defamation League said that “some Black Hebrews are outspoken anti-semites and racists.” Irving shared a link on his Twitter account, which redirects to the Amazon film “Hebrews to Negroes: Wake Up Black America,” which promotes anti-semitic ideologies. The film includes “denials that the Holocaust ever occurred and accusations that Jewish people control the Atlantic Slave Trade and currently control the media.” 

Irving ended up deleting his tweet, and claimed that he “intended to learn from walks of life and religions.” He never issued a formal apology until after he was suspended by the Nets on Nov. 3. Irving had a back-and-forth argument with sports analyst Nick Friedell during one of the Nets post-game press conferences, and, when asked if he held antisemitic beliefs, he did not reply with a yes-or-no answer. Instead, Irving conjected, “I cannot be anti-Semitic if I know where I come from.” Adam Silver, a Jew who is the commissioner of the NBA stated that “I personally have no doubt that he’s not anti-semitic.” It is unclear what Silver will do in response to the situation at hand. It is also unclear what Nets owner Joseph Tsai will do to help ease the problem going forward. The current unpaid suspension will only last five games, but due to Irving’s lack of sympathy and understanding, many are calling for an indefinite suspension. Tsai stated that “[Irving] has to show that he is truly sorry. He only apologized after he was suspended.”

According to Fox News, Irving is “the most hated player in the NBA.” Irving is no stranger to front-page controversies, from denying the COVID vaccine to claiming the earth is flat. However, these recent comments have sent many fans, analytics, and critics over the edge.  

After firing head coach Steve Nash, the Nets were rumored to be planning to hire former Celtics coach Ime Udoka, who was suspended from the Celtics for misconduct with a female employee, but the Nets ultimately decided not to hire Udoka so as to not attract more problems in the front office of the organization. 

Many people are still waiting for a formal and authentic apology from the Nets guard. The Nets have many decisions to make about the direction of their organization and whether Irving will be part of that future or not.