Kyrie Irving is on the verge of completing his suspension from the Brooklyn Nets and could return as soon as Sunday’s game against the Memphis Grizzlies, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
The All-Star point guard was absent from the team for nearly two weeks as punishment for posting an anti-Semitic documentary and then refusing to apologize or speak out against the video for an entire week. The Nets initially suspended him for five games, but with additional terms that apparently extended his absence.
To date, Irving has missed seven games and will also miss Thursday’s game against the Portland Trial Blazers.
The Nets have gone 4-3 since Irving’s suspension, and are 6-9 overall in a season they entered with title aspirations. They also missed another former All-Star, Ben Simmons, for five games with left knee pain.
Nets to-do list for Kyrie Irving reportedly changed during suspension
Among the Nets’ conditions for a comeback, as reported by Yahoo Sports’ Vincent Goodwill, Irving issues a verbal apology to the media, publicly acknowledges the film is harmful and untrue, issues an apology on social media, undergoes training about sensitivity, meeting with Jewish leaders in Brooklyn and meeting with Nets owners to demonstrate that he has changed.
Irving previously posted an apology on Instagram hours after the suspension, though he indicated he still partly believed in the documentary. He has not met with journalists since his suspension.
According to Wojnarowski, that list of requirements has since evolved with Irving taking charge of the process, which the Nets and the NBA would have hoped for.
The NBPA chief, who spoke out against anti-Semitism in the wake of Irving’s post and of which Irving serves as vice president, praised Irving’s efforts in a statement to ESPN:
“Kyrie continues his journey of dialogue and education,” NBPA executive director Tamika Tremaglio told ESPN Wednesday night. “He has grappled with the full weight of the impact of his voice and actions, especially in the Jewish community. Kyrie rejects anti-Semitism in all its forms, and he is dedicated to bettering himself and increasing his level of understanding. He plans to continue this journey long into the future to ensure that his words and actions align with his quest for truth and knowledge.”
The original terms of Irving’s suspension were criticized by former teammate LeBron James and NBPA Vice President Jaylen Brown as being too harsh. It remains to be seen if Irving did more or less than the Nets asked.
Kyrie Irving posted and defended an anti-Semitic documentary containing a fake Hitler quote
Irving’s suspension was the culmination of a week-long firestorm in multiple corners of the NBA, steadily mounting as Irving refused to speak out against the video.
This video contained a number of extremely problematic statements, including a false quote from Adolf Hitler, whose name was misspelled. According to Rolling Stone, the documentary is built around the ideas of extreme factions of the ahistoric Black Hebrew Israelite movement, which claims black people are the true descendants of the ancient Israelites and blames Jews for much of the suffering of the black race.
Irving deleted the tweet containing the video days after the backlash began, but stood his ground in meetings with reporters when asked if he would apologize or denounce the video. The situation came to a head on November 3 when he was directly asked, yes or no, whether he had anti-Semitic beliefs.
Irving didn’t say no.
Instead, he said “I can’t be anti-Semitic if I know where I’m from,” echoing a narrative from the documentary. That moment, and a few others, led to the biggest wave of criticism yet against Irving, and the Nets’ suspension soon followed.
Hours later, Irving was suspended and issued his first apology.
The suspension and resulting loss of pay weren’t the only consequence for Irving. A day later, Nike announced it was suspending its lucrative partnership with Irving and canceling the release of the upcoming Kyrie 8 shoe. Nike co-founder Phil Knight has since said he doubts the relationship will continue. .
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