The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) rejected Brooklyn Nets point guard Kyrie Irving’s $500,000 donation on Thursday after the athlete failed to unequivocally state he holds no antisemitic beliefs.
Irving spurred controversy last week after tweeting a link to the 2018 film Hebrews to Negroes: Wake Up Black America, which is based on a book full of “anti-semitic disinformation.”
Irving initially refused to disavow the film, but he ultimately deleted the tweet and issued a joint statement with the ADL and the Nets on Wednesday, where he and the basketball organization each pledged a $500,000 donation to the ADL.
“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.”
However, Irving refused to unequivocally state he holds no antisemitic beliefs during a press conference on Thursday.
“I cannot be anti-Semitic if I know where I come from,” Irving said in response to a direct question about whether he holds any antisemitic beliefs.
The Nets indefinitely suspended Irving on Thursday following his refusal to say he held no antisemitic beliefs.
“We were dismayed today, when given an opportunity in a media session, that Kyrie refused to unequivocally say he had no anti-Semitic beliefs. This was not the first time he had the opportunity — but failed — to clarify,” the Nets said in a statement announcing his suspension.
After his remarks on Thursday, the ADL also announced it would no longer accept Irving’s $500,000 donation.
“We were optimistic, but after watching the debacle of a press conference, it’s clear that Kyrie feels no accountability for his actions,” ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt tweeted. “@ADL cannot in good conscience accept his donation.”
We were optimistic but after watching the debacle of a press conference, it’s clear that Kyrie feels no accountability for his actions. @ADL cannot in good conscience accept his donation.
— Jonathan Greenblatt (@JGreenblattADL) November 4, 2022
The answer to the question, ‘Do you have any antisemitic beliefs’ is always ‘NO’ without equivocation,” Greenblatt added. “We took @KyrieIrving at his word when he said he took responsibility, but today he did not make good on that promise. Kyrie clearly has a lot of work to do.
The answer to the question “Do you have any antisemitic beliefs” is always “NO” without equivocation. We took @KyrieIrving at his word when he said he took responsibility, but today he did not make good on that promise. Kyrie clearly has a lot of work to do. https://t.co/0hQ6pEueOP
— Jonathan Greenblatt (@JGreenblattADL) November 3, 2022
Greenblatt also applauded the Nets’ suspension, saying it is “well-deserved.”
“Good for @BrooklynNets. @KyrieIrving has been given ample opportunity to do the right thing, apologize and condemn #antisemitism,” Greenblatt tweeted. “He has failed at almost every step along the way. The suspension is well-deserved.”
It was not immediately apparent whether the ADL would still accept the $500,000 donation the Nets organization pledged.