nets star Kyrie Irving He’s no stranger to controversy, and doesn’t seem ready to bow amid further turmoil.
Despite heavy criticism, Irving doubled down in defense of his recent tweet promoting an anti-Semitic film on Saturday night after his team’s 125-116 home loss to the Pacers.
“Have I done something illegal? Did I hurt anyone?” Irving asked reporters about the tweet. “Have I harmed anyone? Do I go out and say I hate a certain group of people?”
The press conference was tense at times as a dismissive Irving lashed out at reporters, saying he “expected no understanding from a media conglomerate group”.
“I’m not going to give up anything I believe in,” Irving said. “I’m only getting stronger because I’m not alone. I have a whole army around me.”
This statement echoed his tweet from earlier in the day, when he stood by his decision to promote the controversial film Hebrew to Negroes: Wake Up Black America. In that tweet defending himself, he said in part, “The label ‘anti-Semitic’ that is being applied to me is unjustified and does not reflect the reality or truth in which I live every day.”
However, the Nets condemned his decision late Friday night, and team owner Joe Tsai followed suit with a statement of his own, expressing disappointment with Irving’s stance. He tweetedpartially: “I want to sit down and make sure he understands that this is hurtful to all of us, and as a man of faith it is wrong to encourage hatred based on race, ethnicity or religion.”
The NBA also released a statement in the wake of the matter condemning hate speech, although it did not specifically name Irving.
Nets coach Steve Nash addressed the situation ahead of Saturday’s game but didn’t go into detail, saying only that the franchise “had spoken to Kyrie about it.”
Irving said he understood Tsai’s position but said he had done nothing harmful.
The tweet remains as of Sunday morning.
Irving was also asked about his recent posts reinforcing conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, who was ordered to pay nearly $1 billion in damages after losing a lawsuit over his false claim that the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting was a hoax.
“That was a few weeks ago,” Irving said. “I don’t stand by Alex Jones’ position, narrative, court cases he had with Sandy Hook, or any of the kids who felt like reliving trauma, or parents who felt like reliving trauma, or any of them to be dismissive of the lives lost during this tragic event. My post was a post that Alex Jones made in the early 90’s or late 90’s about cult secret societies in America and it’s true. So I didn’t identify with anything… for Alex Jones it’s just for posting.”
He added, “And it’s funny, it’s really hilarious because of all the things I posted that day, that was the one post that everyone wanted to see.”
When asked if sharing Jones’ messages would amount to an endorsement, Irving said: “Don’t dehumanize me up here. i am a different person I can post whatever I want. So say that. So turn it off and move on to the next question.”