Kareem Abdul-Jabbar says Kyrie Irving is ‘insulated by fame and money’ as the Nets suspend him


Kareem Abdul-Jabbar says Kyrie Irving is ‘insulated by fame and money’ and has ‘little hope he’ll change’ as the Nets suspend him for five games for refusing to apologize for linking to an anti-Semitic film on Twitter

  • Kareem Abdul-Jabbar criticized Kyrie Irving on his Substack on Thursday
  • The Lakers icon noted the Nets player’s ‘long, rambling, at times contradictory defense’ of his posting of an anti-Semitic film to his Twitter account
  • Irving declined to answer clearly whether or not he held anti-Semitic beliefs during a Thursday media availability
  • And the Nets have now suspended him ‘until he satisfies a series of objective remedial measures that address the harmful impact of his conduct’ 
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NBA legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has called Kyrie Irving ‘out of step with reality’ for refusing to apologize for posting anti-Semitic material to his Twitter, and said there is ‘little hope’ the Nets star will change.

Irving was suspended by the Nets without pay for at least five games following a Thursday media availability where he refused to answer whether he held any anti-Semitic beliefs and said he ‘cannot be anti-Semitic if he knows where he comes from.’

And earlier Thursday, Lakers icon Abdul-Jabbar took to his Substack to criticize the Nets player.

‘Irving has been defiant about his postings. You can read his long, rambling, at times contradictory defense here,’ as he linked to an article where Irving denied the movie he shared, ‘Hebrews to Negroes: Wake Up Black America,’ was anti-Semitic.

‘Mostly he reveals his lack of awareness of how history works. It’s not an all-you-can-eat buffet from which you can pluck just the dishes you like without any understanding of the context,’ Abdul-Jabbar continued.

‘His inability to understand why his posts are news can be seen in this statement: “There’s things being posted every day. I’m no different from the next human being, so don’t treat me any different. You guys come in here and make up this powerful influence that I have (and say) you cannot post that. Why not? Why not?'” 

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was full of criticism for Kyrie Irving on his Substack on Thursday

‘If he really thinks someone with millions of followers spouting hate speech is the same as Jim in accounting posting on Facebook, then he really is out of step with reality.’

Irving posted a link to the Amazon page for the 2018 film – which is based on a 2015 book by the same name – last week. 

The film has been described as ‘venomously anti-Semitic,’ and Rolling Stone pointed out that the book by Ronald Dalton Jr. comments that ‘many famous high-ranking Jews’ have ‘admitted to ‘worship[ing] Satan or Lucifer.’ 

Irving and the Nets organization pledged to work with the Anti-Defamation League Wednesday, alongside individually donating $500k to causes that ‘eradicate intolerance.’ 

Kyrie Irving refused to answer whether he held anti-Semitic beliefs on Thursday to media

Kyrie Irving refused to answer whether he held anti-Semitic beliefs on Thursday to media

Irving did accept responsibility for his actions and accepted the film contained ‘questionable and untrue’ content but fell short of offering an apology, with Abdul-Jabbar suggesting his words were not genuine.

‘The Nets finally forced Irving to acknowledge the damage he’s done and donate $500,000 to groups opposing hate speech,’ he said.

‘In his statement you can almost hear his arm being twisted: “I oppose all forms of hatred and oppression and stand strong with communities that are marginalized and impacted every day. I am aware of the negative impact of my post towards the Jewish community and I take responsibility.'”

‘But there was no explicit apology—which tells us everything about what he really believes.

‘Honestly, there’s little hope that he will change because he’s insulated by fame and money and surrounded by yes-people. There is no motivation to learn how to distinguish propaganda from facts. All that’s left is for the world to decide how it should respond to him.’

The Brooklyn Nets star caught the attention for publicizing the 2018 film 'Hebrews to Negroes: Wake Up Black America' on social media with a link to its Amazon page

The Brooklyn Nets star caught the attention for publicizing the 2018 film ‘Hebrews to Negroes: Wake Up Black America’ on social media with a link to its Amazon page

On the other hand, Abdul-Jabbar praised former NBA stars (and current TV analysts) Shaquille O’Neal, Reggie Miller and Charles Barkley for their criticism of Irving earlier this week.

Barkley said Wednesday the NBA ‘dropped the ball’ by not suspending Irving, while O’Neal said he was ‘hurt’ by Irving’s actions and that the Nets guard ‘doesn’t really care what’s going on.’

Miller also criticized Irving’s fellow players for the ‘crickets’ he heard in them not speaking out against him. 

And Abdul-Jabbar was effusive in his praise for the trio.  

‘I couldn’t be prouder of Shaq, Charles, and Reggie for their bold and straightforward comments. They are at the forefront of Black athletes that are condemning the recent antisemitic social media posts by Kyrie Irving and Ye (Kanye West). It’s a genuine “I am Spartacus” moment.’

Irving will miss at least five games for the Nets, though the team noted in a statement that he would not be back ‘until he satisfies a series of objective remedial measures that address the harmful impact of his conduct.’

NETS STATEMENT IN FULL 

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 Kvrie refused to unequivocally sav 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.

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