NBA's Nets suspend Irving at least five games in anti-semitism furore

The Brooklyn Nets suspended Kyrie Irving for at least five games on Thursday, saying they were "dismayed" by the NBA star's response after he was criticized for posting a link to anti-semitic material.

The Nets said in a statement they had made repeated efforts over the past several to work with Irving on the issue to "help him understand the harm and danger of his words and actions, which began with him publicizing a film containing deeply disturbing anti-semitic hate.

"We were dismayed today, when given an opportunity in a media session, that Kyrie refused to unequivocally say he has no anti-semitic beliefs, nor acknowledge specific hateful material in the film," the team said. "This was not the first time he had the opportunity - but failed - to clarify.

"Such failure to disavow anti-semitism when given a clear opportunity to do so is deeply disturbing, is against the values of our organization, and constitutes conduct detrimental to the team. Accordingly, we are of the view that he is currently unfit to be associated with the Brooklyn Nets."

The Nets' announcement came hours after NBA commissioner Adam Silver expressed his disappointment that Irving failed to apologize for his social media posting link to the film "Hebrews to Negroes: Wake Up Black America" -- a 2018 film widely lambasted for containing a range of anti-semitic tropes that was criticized by, among others, Nets owner Joe Tsai.

Silver was pleased that Irving and the Nets had since announced he and the team would make $500,000 donations to groups working to eradicate hate, Irving admitting the film had a "negative impact" on the Jewish community.

But the commissioner pushed for an apology that was not forthcoming when Irving appeared at a later press conference and said only that he took responsibility for the post.

"We have decided that Kyrie will serve a suspension without pay until he satisfies a series of objective remedial measures that address the harmful impact of his conduct," the Nets said. "And the suspension period served is no less than five games."

bb/rcw