The Brooklyn Nets and their billionaire owner Joe Tsai condemned controversial star Kyrie Irving for promoting a film they claim is “full of antisemitic disinformation” in a statement Friday night—the latest case of antisemitic rhetoric linked to a high-profile figure.
Irving linked to an Amazon Prime stream of the 2018 movie “Hebrews to Negroes: Wake Up Black America” in a tweet on Thursday, a movie based on a book by the same name that has been decried by some groups as being “stuffed with antisemitic tropes,” Rolling Stone reported.
“I want to sit down and make sure he understands this is hurtful to all of us, and as a man of faith, it is wrong to promote hate based on race, ethnicity or religion,” Tsai, who also founded the Chinese tech company Alibaba Group, tweeted, saying “this is bigger than basketball.”
The Nets also condemned their star point guard, saying the team has “no tolerance for the promotion of any form of hate speech,” in a statement first shared by The Athletic.
Irving has a history of making controversial statements and decisions, including his refusal to get a Covid-19 vaccination, and his reposting of a far-right Alex Jones clip promoting a “new world order” profiting on misery, prompting Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, the NBA’s all-time leading scorer, to criticize the 30-year-old Nets star, saying he “would be dismissed as a comical buffoon if it weren’t for his influence over young people who look up to athletes.”
Irving’s post comes just weeks after Kanye West’s comments have drawn widespread condemnation as being deeply antisemitic and filled with “tropes like greed and control”—while also drawing applause from Nazi protesters in Los Angeles. West, who legally changed his name to Ye, has also been dropped by talent agency and record label Def Jam, and had his lucrative deals with Adidas, Balenciaga, Foot Locker and Gap terminated. Unnamed sources close to the musician told CNN this week West also planned to name his 2018 album after Adolf Hitler, reportedly having an “obsession” with the Nazi leader. West, as well as other celebrities and politicians banned from Twitter—including former President Donald Trump—could make a return to the social media site following billionaire Elon Musk’s takeover Thursday night. Musk, who has slammed the social media giant for its moderation policies, has flirted with the idea of lifting bans and creating a marketplace of free speech, although some groups have warned loosening moderation policies could open the door to unchecked hate speech.
Antisemitic incidents in the U.S. set a record in 2021, with 2,717 reported incidents of “assault, harassment and vandalism,” a 34% rise from 2020, according to the Anti-Defamation League. Self-proclaimed Neo-Nazi groups and Nazi ideology rhetoric on fringe websites have also been on the rise in recent years, with the far-right extreme groups taking inspiration from Nazi Germany. One of the most violent recent attacks was an October, 2018 shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh that left 11 dead. Earlier this year, President Joe Biden created a Special Envoy to address and combat antisemitism, defined by the office as “discrimination, prejudice or hatred toward Jews.”
Forbes Valuation Number
We estimate Tsai is worth $7.7 billion, making him the 260th richest person in the world. Irving, meanwhile, was the 22nd highest paid athlete in the world last year, having signed a four-year $141 million contract with the Nets in 2019.