Brooklyn: Anti-Semitic scandal involving Kyrie Irving cannot be disregarded

November 3, 2022

A reporter asked Steve Nash on Monday whether he believed he had handled the Kyrie Irving problem before he coached his final game for the Brooklyn Nets. Nash avoided explicitly responding to that query. “I really hope that we can all learn from this together,” he added.

Many circumstances could be listed that Nash claimed he hoped the club would go through during his nearly 26-month stay in Brooklyn. The antisemitism scandal, though, is new. Last Thursday, Irving posted a link to a movie with anti-Semitic stereotypes on Twitter and Instagram. Two days later, at a post-game press conference, he doubled down and absurdly claimed that a reporter had dehumanized him by inquiring about it.

While formally condemning hate speech and antisemitism without immediately addressing Irving’s advocacy, the Nets management has performed a careful dance. A Holocaust denial film known as “Hebrews to Negroes: Wake Up Black America” misleads the audience. It claims, “The Jews have constructed five major falsehoods which attempt to conceal their nature and protect their status and power,” including “That 6 million persons were killed in a holocaust during WWII.” The Anti-Defamation League refuted this erroneous claim.

He said he “wasn’t looking for antisemitic crap,” but he undoubtedly did. And when questioned about posting a 20-year-old video of Alex Jones spreading false information about the “New World Order,” a thesis that is based on antisemitism in and of itself, Irving responded, “It’s true.”

Apart from team owner Joe Tsai and YES Network analyst Richard Jefferson, no one connected to the organization has openly criticized Irving. But when one side has been angry that he has been called to account for spreading antisemitic sludge, it is not a matter of “every side” understanding one another. Nor is it a matter of “bringing the sides together so they can appreciate where people are coming from,” as Marks stated on Tuesday.

According to a source, Irving has sent his father and stepmother/agent to meet with the leadership of the Anti-Defamation League. Still, Marks claimed Irving hasn’t spoken to the media since Saturday’s disastrous press conference because “we don’t want to cause more fuss and stuff right now, more interactions with people.” This would undoubtedly not be the strategy if Irving had said he would handle the questions better next time.

Marks acknowledged that some supporters might not want to support Brooklyn. I understand what’s happening here, he added. I’m certainly not glad of the situation we find ourselves in,” he said before complaining that whenever he turns on a source, he hears people discussing the team’s various off-court problems. “I’d like to get back to basketball. I think that’s what our players would like to get back to. They’d like to focus on the important things here, and that’s competing at the highest level and playing basketball games,” he said.

Brooklyn, the NBA, and the National Basketball Players Association, on which Irving is a vice president, would all find it handy if everyone would take their uninspiring remarks, move on, and concentrate on basketball. These entities— all looking for the person who did this—will be motivated to accept it if Irving even makes a token of remorse.

Marks’ statement that the Nets want to “focus on the things that are important here.” However, it was a terrible choice of words; if they care about equality and inclusion and fighting antisemitism, they must stop speaking about this scandal as if it’s just another unfortunate thing that’s happened to them rather than an embarrassing crisis by one person. Nash continued, “I think the organization is trying to take statement where they’re going to communicate through this and try to all popped out in a much better position and with more understanding and empathy for every corner of this debate and situation. It’s always an opportunity for us to thrive, grow and understand new perspectives.

In a sense, Nash was going about his duties, trying to keep the squad together as it navigated the most recent of many firestorms. The NBA has a tradition of viewing each challenge standing in the way of harmony and victories as an opportunity to progress. It is common to provide players with almost unwavering support when they struggle, whether because of an injury, a shooting slump, or an issue off the court. However, attempting to incorporate antisemitism into the standard triumphing over adversity concept is like using your phone with a toaster.

Additionally, they need to stop portraying it as a basketball diversion. It isn’t a diversion; Basketball is.