CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The road map to Kyrie Irving’s return to the Nets has been revealed.
The team has a list of six steps it wants the troubled star — who is currently suspended indefinitely for promoting an anti-Semitic movie and book — to complete before he returns to the court.
It has been reported that Irving must apologize for his social media posts linking to the movie and book, and must meet with NBA commissioner Adam Silver and local Jewish leaders, as well as with Nets owner Joe Tsai, whose texts he had not been returning. But apparently the list runs deeper.
The Nets, who are 2-0 without Irving, also want him to speak with the media and issue a verbal apology for promoting the film, acknowledging its message is harmful and untrue. He also has to share the apology on his social media accounts. In addition, he has to go to sensitivity training.
All the above was reported by Yahoo. On Saturday night, The Athletic added that Irving must make a $500,000 donation to anti-hate causes, and also undergo training to understand anti-Semitism.
Irving was suspended for at least five games after repeated refusals to apologize, testy exchanges with the media and a lack of dialogue with the organization.
Now Silver, who is Jewish, has demanded to meet with Irving this coming week, and Celtics forward Grant Williams — who is, like Irving an NBPA VP — said the union will discuss the matter as well.
“I think we will but currently, there are a lot of matters as well,” Williams told MassLive. “I think we’ll get together as a group potentially — everything has been through the team. It has been not been a league issue to this point. It hasn’t been an NBA/NBPA issue. The Nets and the league have taken care of that and dealing with Kyrie and the process there. We don’t have much control on that matter.”
Irving’s former Cavalier teammate, LeBron James, chimed in as well.
“I don’t condone any hate to any kind. To any race. To Jewish communities, to Black communities, to Asian communities. You guys know where I stand,” James said Friday night.
Last month, James’ digital media company, Uninterrupted, decided not to air an episode of his YouTube talk show, “The Shop,” featuring Ye, formerly known as Kanye West, because of anti-Semitic comments by the rapper. He has repeatedly supported Irving’s recent stance, one controversial enough that Nike suspended its relationship with the Nets point guard.
“There’s no place in this world for [hate speech]. Nobody can benefit from that, and I believe what Kyrie did caused some harm to a lot of people,” James said Friday after the Lakers’ 130-116 loss to Utah.
“He caused some harm, and I think it’s unfortunate. But I don’t stand on the position to harm people when it comes to your voice or your platform or anything. So it doesn’t matter what color your skin is, how tall you are, what position you’re in. If you are promoting or soliciting or saying harmful things to any community that harms people, then I don’t respect it. I don’t condone it.”
In their first game without the suspended Irving, the Nets rolled to a 128-86 win Friday night at Washington. Afterward, Wizards forward Deni Avdija, who is from Israel and is believed to be the only Jewish player in the NBA, spoke on the situation.
“[Irving] is a role model, he’s a great player. I think he [made] a mistake. But you need to understand that he gives [an] example to people. People look up to him,” Avdija said. “You can think whatever you want, you can do whatever you want. I don’t think it’s right to go out in public and publish it, and let little kids that follow you see it, and the generation to come after to think like that. Because it’s not true. And I don’t think it’s fair. Hopefully, he’s sorry for what he said.
“I think there needs to be consequences for the actions that a player [does]. I don’t know the punishment that the league gives but I think that needs to be known that there’s no room for words like that.”
Irving served the second game of his suspension Saturday when the Nets won 98-94 at Charlotte. But if Irving chooses not to go through with his various meetings — including with Silver and Jewish leaders — it’s unclear when, or if, he’ll play again for the Nets.