American professional basketball player for the Brooklyn Nets of the National Basketball Association (NBA), Kyrie Irving said Wednesday he opposes all forms of hate, and he and the Brooklyn Nets will each donate $500,000 toward groups that work to eradicate it.
Irving, the Nets and the Anti-Defamation League released a joint statement announcing the donations Wednesday night.
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“I oppose all forms of hatred and oppression and stand strong with communities that are marginalized and impacted every day,” Irving said in the statement. “I am aware of the negative impact of my post towards the Jewish community and I take responsibility. I do not believe everything said in the documentary was true or reflects my morals and principles. I am a human being learning from all walks of life and I intend to do so with an open mind and a willingness to listen. So from my family and I, we meant no harm to any one group, race or religion of people, and wish to only be a beacon of truth and light.”
Irving initially posted about the movie, “Hebrews to Negroes: Wake Up Black America,” late last week. He defended the post in a news conference Saturday, saying that he wouldn’t “stand down” on what he believes in while declining to say whether he held antisemitic beliefs.
“There is no room for antisemitism, racism, false narratives or misguided attempts to create animosity and hate,” Sam Zussman, CEO of BSE Global, the parent company of the Brooklyn Nets and Barclays Center, said in the joint statement. “Now, more than ever, there is a pressing need to ensure education in these areas. We are putting our prior statements into practice because actions speak louder than words.”
Irving’s post has since been condemned by Nets owner Joe Tsai, and the NBA responded by issuing a statement decrying hate speech. Irving has not spoken publicly since Saturday night, and it remains unclear when he will do so again, according to ESPN.
“At a time when antisemitism has reached historic levels, we know the best way to fight the oldest hatred is to both confront it head-on and also to change hearts and minds. With this partnership, ADL will work with the Nets and Kyrie to open dialogue and increase understanding,” Jonathan Greenblatt, the CEO of the ADL, said in the statement. “At the same time, we will maintain our vigilance and call out the use of anti-Jewish stereotypes and tropes — whatever, whoever, or wherever the source — as we work toward a world without hate.”
In the joint statement, the Nets said Irving and the team will work with the ADL in “an effort to develop educational programming that is inclusive and will comprehensively combat all forms of antisemitism and bigotry.”
The Nets also said they will continue to support and participate in Shine A Light, which they described as “an ongoing initiative dedicated to spotlighting modern day antisemitism.”
“The events of the past week have sparked many emotions within the Nets organization, our Brooklyn community, and the nation,” the joint statement said. “The public discourse that followed has brought greater awareness to the challenges we face as a society when it comes to combating hate and hate speech. We are ready to take on this challenge and we recognize that this is a unique moment to make a lasting impact …
“Additionally, to ensure a sustainable and meaningful impact in driving awareness and education on the important topics of hatred based on race, ethnicity, and religion, the Brooklyn Nets, New York Liberty and the teams’ affiliated organizations will host a series of community conversations at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, in partnership with ADL and other national civil rights organizations as well as local community associations.”
The Nets are scheduled to practice Thursday in advance of Friday night’s game against the Washington Wizards in Washington, D.C.
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