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Brooklyn Nets suspend Kyrie Irving for at least five games without pay

Tom Haberstroh joins Brother from Another to discuss how the NBA's silence on Kyrie Irving enables not only Irving, but any future player who tries to model Irving's blueprint moving forward.

The Brooklyn Nets were slow to come around but finally jumped in with both feet Thursday night.

Saying he is “unfit to be associated with the Brooklyn Nets” after the team gave him multiple chances to “unequivocally say he has no antisemitic beliefs” and to “acknowledge specific, hateful material” in a film he promoted on Twitter, the Nets have suspended Kyrie Irving.

This is at least a five-game suspension without pay and will remain in place “until he satisfies a series of objective remedial measures that address the harmful impact of his conduct.”

The suspension is in the wake of Irving Tweeting out a link to a film that denies the Holocaust and, according to those that have watched it, is filled with hours of hate speech toward both the Jewish people and many others, such as the LGBTQ community. When asked about it by reporters on Thursday, Irving sounded defensive and did not apologize, adding “I cannot be antisemitic if I know where I come from,” and “I didn’t mean to cause any harm. I’m not the one who made the documentary.”

The Nets were slow to react and allowed this to build to the point fans were sitting courtside for a Nets/Pacers game in Indiana wearing “Fight Antisemitism” T-shirts and Adam Silver had to call Irving out for not apologizing. Then Irving met with the media and again did not apologize.

Here is the complete statement from the Nets:

“Over the last several days, we have made repeated attempts to work with Kyrie Irving to help him understand the harm and danger of his words and actions, which began with him publicizing a film containing deeply disturbing antisemitic hate. We believed that taking the path of education in this challenging situation would be the right one and thought that we had made progress with our joint commitment to eradicating hate and intolerance.

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

“Such failure to disavow antisemitism 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. 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 and the suspension period served is no less than five games.”

Last season, when Irving refused to get vaccinated and couldn’t play Nets home games because of New York’s vaccine mandate, the team and owner Joe Tsai said he would not play in road games either, making a moral stand. That lastest until the team struggled and Kevin Durant asked for his return.

We will see how the Nets stick to their guns now, they are off to a 2-6 start already. But this suspension should last at least five games.