NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has ‘no doubt’ that suspended Brooklyn guard Kyrie Irving is not anti-Semitic, he told a conference Thursday, while LeBron James spoke out. took to Twitter to defend his former teammate whose status with the Nets remains a mystery.
These developments followed Nike co-founder Phil Knight, who told CNBC in an interview that aired earlier Thursday that the footwear giant’s relationship with Irving is likely broken for good.
Silver sat down with Irving earlier this week, and he told attendees at the Sports Business Journal Dealmakers conference in Washington that he walked away from that conversation thinking the situation was “incredibly unfortunate.”
“Personally, based on what he told me directly, I have no doubt that he is not anti-Semitic,” Silver said. “But I think he’s now going to have to go through a process.”
That process — and when the Nets lift his suspension — depends in part on how Irving fulfills a number of team-imposed return-to-play mandates, one of which was completed when he met Silver more early this week. There are several others, and the terms have raised eyebrows at both the National Basketball Players Association — the union in which Irving sits on the board — and James, among others.
“I told you I don’t believe in sharing hurtful information,” James posted on Twitter, echoing comments he made after a Los Angeles Lakers game last week. “And I will continue like this but Kyrie has apologized and he should be able to play. That’s what I think. It’s so simple. Help him learn, but he should play. What he’s being asked to do to get back on the court, I think it’s excessive (in my opinion) He’s not the person we portray him.
Irving’s suspension with the Nets will last at least five games. He’s missed four already and could conceivably return on Sunday when Brooklyn visits the Lakers. It’s unclear when the Nets will reinstate him.
Nets general manager Sean Marks said Wednesday that he had not spoken to Irving during his suspension.
“When the time is right when we talk and if there’s an update to share, I’ll definitely share it,” Marks said.
Silver told the New York Times on Thursday that he had never seen Irving use anti-Semitic or hate speech, but added, “Whether he is anti-Semitic or not has no bearing on the damage caused by the publication. hateful content.
The content was a since-deleted tweet posted by Irving last month with a link to a documentary called “Hebrews to Negroes: Wake Up Black America,” which includes Holocaust denial and conspiracy theories about Jews. In a controversial post-game interview a few days later, Irving defended his right to post whatever he wanted.
The fallout was massive: Irving was criticized by Silver and several anti-hate groups, including the Anti-Defamation League, the Nets eventually suspended Irving, and then Nike announced last Friday that it had “suspended” its relationship with Irving and canceled his plans to release his next signature shoe.
“I would doubt we would go back,” co-founder Phil Knight said in the CNBC interview that aired Thursday. “But I am not sure.”