You may be shocked to hear that Steve Nash spent time before Brooklyn’s Saturday night tilt vs the Indiana Pacers fielding questions that had nothing to do with the game. Bottom line: The Nets ‘organization’ has spoken with Kyrie Irving about his recent social media promotion of Hebrews to Negroes: Wake Up Black America, a 2018 movie based on a book of the same name from three years earlier.
The book contains a litany of antisemitic passages based on both centuries-old stereotypes and new-age conspiracy theories, many of which were broken down in this Rolling Stone article.
The controversy drew more eyes when Nets principal owner Joe Tsai addressed Irving, through Twitter, late on Friday night. On Saturday afternoon, Irving attempted to defend himself, shunning the label of antisemitism and claiming that he meant no disrespect to “anyone’s religious beliefs”.
And as the media gathered before Saturday night’s game, Steve Nash walked to the podium and flashed a smile through gritted teeth, as if to say “go ahead, let’s get this over with.”
He emphasized twice that he and his group were not “familiar with the material” that Irving had promoted on social media, and thus it would be difficult to make a more in-depth comment. Nash emphasized the organization’s commitment to representing “values of inclusiveness and equality” while condemning any “hate speech”, without mentioning either of the words “Jewish” or “anti-semitism”.
Then, not long before the game, the NBA put out its own statement on the controversy, echoing what Nets governor Joe Tsai had said Friday night.
The NBA issued the following statement: pic.twitter.com/vuTVhEegeh— NBA Communications (@NBAPR) October 29, 2022
Putting aside the weight of Irving’s actions in the real world (in which the validity of doing so is a whole other discussion), Nash was on the podium addressing what fit under the ever-widening umbrella term of a “distraction,” how this may affect Brooklyn’s chances of winning basketball games.
“I don’t think our group is overly affected by the situation,” Nash surmised. “We’ve had so many situations over the last two-and-a-half years that I think we’ve kind of built an immunity to it.”
When asked if he’s either spoken with the league office or if there is a possibility of a suspension from the NBA, Nash flatly stated, “I have no idea.”
And while he did confirm that Irving and the organization have been in contact, Nash would not specify whether that included direct conversations between Irving and Joe Tsai: “I’m not going to give details on who he spoke to and what that conversation was. That’s an organizational thing.”
YES Network posted Nash’s comments as well as remarks by Basketball Hall of Famer Rebecca Lobo who called Irving’s postings “disappointing and dangerous.”
And thus, the extracurriculars came to a close. Nash predictably kept his answers short and sweet, generalities dominating his responses. The questions shifted back to playing the Indiana Pacers and the injury report as it became clear there was no more to pry out of Nash. But that was far from surprising; he’s been here before.