Several fans clad in "Fight Antisemitism" shirts were seen sitting courtside at Monday night's basketball game between the Brooklyn Nets and the Indiana Pacers in New York City.
Last Thursday, Nets guard Kyrie Irving took to Twitter to post a link to the 2018 film "Hebrews to Negroes: Wake Up Black America" on Amazon Prime Video. The synopsis states that the movie, which is based on a 2015 book of the same name, "uncovers the true identity of the Children of Israel." The Associated Press reported that the film "includes anti-Jewish tropes."
Irving initially defended his right to share the link before deleting his tweet, amid a wave of backlash.
"I'm not going to stand down on anything I believe in," Irving said during Saturday's postgame press conference "I'm only going to get stronger because I'm not alone. I have a whole army around me."
He noted that he is "not a divisive person when it comes to religion" and embraces "all walks of life."
“Did I do anything illegal? Did I hurt anybody?” he added. “Did I harm anybody? Am I going out and saying that I hate one specific group of people?”
However, Nets owner Joe Tsai said he was "disappointed" by Kyrie's tweet and that it "is hurtful to all of us."
"I’m disappointed that Kyrie appears to support a film based on a book full of anti-semitic disinformation. 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 tweeted on Saturday. "This is bigger than basketball."
The NBA also criticized Kyrie's tweet in a statement on Saturday.
"Hate speech of any kind is unacceptable and runs counter to the NBA's values of equality, inclusion and respect," the professional basketball league said. "We believe we all have a role to play in ensuring such words or ideas, including antisemitic ones, are challenged and refuted and we will continue working with all members of the NBA community to ensure that everyone understands the impact of their words and actions."
The Anti-Defamation League, a New York-based Jewish civil rights organization, subsequently applauded the NBA and the Nets via Twitter "for responding quickly to condemn the promotion of #antisemitic hate speech."
It's not the first time Irving has stirred controversy for his beliefs. In recent years, he has publicly stated that the Earth is flat, promoted ideas from conspiracy theorist Alex Jones and refused New York City's mandate to get vaccinated against COVID-19, the latter of which cost him a four-year contract extension with the Nets.