For nearly nine minutes after the Nets lost to the Pacers, Kyrie Irving took questions from beat writers at Barclays Center in an extraordinary back-and-forth that was often combative as Irving was asked about the controversy over his promotion of an antisemitic film Thursday afternoon.
Here’s the transcript of the media availability, the video of which can be found on the YES Network website...
Kyrie Irving addresses the backlash to his recent social media posts after Saturday night's game in Brooklyn. pic.twitter.com/tSuxGrNbbM— YES Network (@YESNetwork) October 30, 2022
Meghan Triplett: Kyrie, going into tonight, there’s been a lot of backlash that you’re receiving. Do you have a response or reaction to everything that’s going down?
Kyrie Irving: What kind of backlash are you talking about?
Meghan Triplett: Some are questioning...
Kyrie Irving: Who?
Meghan Triplett: Fans, and you had a statement from Joe Tsai about the tweet that you posted. Was there any response other than the tweet that you posted?
Kyrie Irving: Yeah, I’ll break down the day for you. I went back home to get ready for the game, and I was on Amazon Prime, and I’m sitting there on my phone at the same time. I usually do those things. Like I watch documentary, I watch, a program that’s education first that either talks about history, or finance, or it talks about the state of the world. I’m all over the place when it comes to, you know, really elevating my consciousness because I didn’t get it in school. All I did was get seven hours a day being indoctrinated and brainwashed on a history that doesn’t belong to me or my ancestors. So that day, particularly, I went home and I was on Google. Of course people love that search engine; I wasn’t looking for any anti-Semitic stuff or anything specifically on any race of people. I looked up my name and what it means and it’s a title given to Christ, Philippians: 211. My name translates into Hebrew language as ‘Yahweh.” So I went on Amazon Prime. I was like, ‘You know what? Let me see, are there any documentaries on “Yahweh.” So I went in the search bar, typed in “Yahweh.” That came up. Went out and shared it on my platform, that was my night. In terms of the backlash or what people call it, we’re in 2022. History is not supposed to be hidden from anybody, and I’m not a divisive person when it comes to religion. I embrace all walks of life. You see it on all my platforms. I talk to all races, all cultures, all religions. And my response would be, it’s not about educating yourself on what Semitism is or what anti-Semitism is. It’s really about where the root words, where these come from and understanding that this is an African heritage that is also belonging to the people.
Africa is in it, whether we want to dismiss it or not. So the claims of anti-Semitism, who are the original chosen people of God? And we go into these religious conversations and it’s a big no-no, I don’t live my way like that. I don’t live my life that way, excuse me. I grew up in a melting pot, and I say a melting pot of all races. White, black, red, yellow, Jewish, Christian, Muslim. You see the way I live my life now, I’m not here to be divisive. So they could push their agenda - I don’t want to say, because I’m not identifying any one group or race of people, but I’m in a unique position to have a level of influence on my community. And what I post does not mean that I support everything that’s being said, or everything is being done, or I’m campaigning for anything. All I do is post things for my people in my community and those that it’s actually going to impact. Anybody else that has criticism, it obviously wasn’t meant for them.
Brian Lewis: Hopefully I’m understanding what you said and I want to make sure I get it right because I don’t want to ...
Kyrie Irving: I don’t expect understanding from a media conglomerate group that sincerely talks about the game of basketball, and then you bring up religion as if it’s correlated at times when it’s convenient for people to bring it up. So please just be direct with your question so we can move on from this and I can talk about the game, and go home to my son Eloheim and my wife Marlene, okay?
Brian Lewis: Am I to take it that this was - what you shared - was not something that you’ve even watched?
Kyrie Irving: I watched it.
Brian Lewis: Okay, you did watch it -
Kyrie Irving: I did. I had a lot of time last year, a lot. I read a whole bunch, good and bad, about the truth of it.
Brian Lewis: So then do you, I guess, understand or not understand those that might imply that that had anti-Semitic leanings in it? And we ask this because the tweet is still up there, so...
Kyrie Irving: We’re in 2022, it’s on Amazon, public platform. Whether you want to go watch it is up to you. There’s things being posted every day. I am no different than 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 over... ‘You, you cannot post that.’ Why not? Why not? Everybody post everything else. You saw the word n****r going up on Twitter, right? I don’t hear uproar on that. I’m not here to be divisive on what’ s going on on this or that, I’m not comparing Jews to Blacks. I’m not comparing White to Black; I’m not doing that. That conversation is dismissive, and it constantly revolves around the rhetoric of who are the chosen people of God. And I’m not here to argue over a person, or culture, or religion on what they believe. Nah, This is what is here. It’s on a public platform. Did I do anything illegal?
Brian Lewis: No.
Kyrie Irving: Okay.
Brian Lewis: No.
Kyrie Irving: Yeah that’s what I’m saying, did I do anything illegal? Did I hurt anybody, did I harm anybody? Am I going out and saying that I hate one specific group of people? So, out of all the judgment that people got from me posting, just, without talking to me, and then, I respect what Joe said, but there has a lot to do with the, not ego or pride of how proud I am to be an African heritage, but also to be living as a free black man here in America, knowing the historical complexities for me to get here. So, I’m not going to stand down on anything that I believe in. I’m only going to get stronger because I’m not alone. I have a whole army around me.
Nick Friedell: Kyrie, while we’re on the topic of promotion, why did you decide to promote something that Alex Jones said?
Kyrie Irving: That was a few weeks ago, I do not stand with Alex Jones’s position, narrative, (the) court case that he had with Sandy Hook, or any of the kids that felt like they had to relive trauma or parents that had to relive trauma or to be dismissive to all the lives that were lost during that tragic event. My post was a post from Alex Jones that he did in the early nineties or late nineties about secret societies in America of a cult. And it’s true. So I wasn’t identifying with anything being a campaignist [sic] for Alex Jones or anything. I was just there to post. And it’s funny, and it’s actually hilarious because out of all the things I posted that day, that was the one post that everyone chose to see. It just goes back to the way our world is and works. I’m not here to complain about it, I just exist.
Nick Friedell: And to follow up on the promotion of the movie and the book-.
Kyrie Irving: Can you please stop calling it a promotion? What am I promoting?
Nick Friedell: You put it out on your platform.
Kyrie Irving: But I’m promoting it? Do you see me doing-.
Nick Friedell: By putting it out there people are going to say-.
Kyrie Irving: Yeah I put it out there just it like you put things out there, right?
Nick Friedell: Yeah, but I...
Kyrie Irving: Okay. You put things out there for a living, right?
Nick Friedell: Right but my stuff is not filled with anti-semitic stuff.
Kyrie Irving: Let’s move on. Let’s move on. Let’s move on, don’t dehumanize me up here.
Nick Friedell: I’m not, I’m not doing that. You’re free to post whatever you want.
Kyrie Irving: I can post whatever I want, so say that, and shut it down and move on to the next question.
Nick Friedell: But Kyrie, you have to understand that...
Kyrie Irving: I don’t have to understand anything from you.
Nick Friedell: It’s not me.
Kyrie Irving: Nothing.
Nick Friedell: By posting what you did...
Kyrie Irving: It’s nothing, it’s just people that you’re making up, bro. Move on.
Nick Friedell: But by posting what you did...
Kyrie Irving: Next question, next question. Do you guys have any more questions for me?
Nick Friedell: People are gonna say “Do you have anti-semitic beliefs?”
Kyrie Irving: Cause this is going to be a clip that he’s going to marvel at. Is there any more questions?
Nick Friedell: But you’re not answering the question.
Kyrie Irving: *mocking* “Uhh uh uh uh you’re not answering the question, oh my god. Let’s make another Instagram clip so we can be famous again.” Next question?
At that point, the Interview was ended by Nets PR, but Irving was heard to say this as he exited.
Kyrie Irving: “Wish you would feel the same about Black reproductive rights, about the things that actually matter, instead of what I’m posting. Fix your life, bro.”
Earlier, during first quarter of the game, Richard Jefferson and Ryan Ruocco took nearly three minutes out of play-by-play coverage to discuss Irving’s promotion of an antisemitic movie and book. For RJ, it wasn’t just the promotion of the video on Tweet and on Instagram, but also Irving’s reposting of conspiracist Alex Jones material over the summer.
The 20-year-old video was yet another conspiracy theory, this one suggesting there’s a “New World Order,” a tyrannical organization” that’s “releasing diseases and viruses and plagues upon us, [so] we then basically get shoved into their system.”
Jefferson’s main point was that any Irving apology must be questioned as long as he does not take the offensive tweet down. Here’s the transcript of that discussion...
Richard Jefferson: You know, it’s tough because it is disappointing. You know Kyrie says he’s not antisemitic. But the tweet is still up. the tweet is still up there. Also, earlier in the summer, Kyrie also posted Alex Jones who basically tortured a bunch of families here locally in Connecticut after the Sandy Hook tragedy. He was torturing those families and Kyrie posted a video from this man. It wasn’t about that specific thing. You have to understand how to use social media that has effects, how it can effect people. And if you’re insensitive to that, that you’re truly endorsing that.
So to say that and not take it down, to repost Alex Jones, you are endorsing them and giving them your social media platform, with millions and millions of followers, you are giving them an endorsement. You are saying look at this man, look at this movie. Those things have effects and people have to understand that.
I did speak to him to get some understanding and told him I was going to address this on-air. The Alex Jones thing, I have a 5- and 7-year-old. And to know what that man did to those families. It’s hard for me to put it on words on television.
To me, the only person who can answer that is Kyrie Irving. If you put these things up there, if you’re going to leave things up there, you’re going to have to answer these questions. Hopefully, you’ll get some answers, but if you’re offending people and leaving it up there, you need to understand that and why you’re passionate about leaving it up there.”
Ruocco at that point interjected: “If you’re apologetic, why are you leaving it up?” to which RJ responded, “It’s simple.” Jefferson concluded by saying that he doesn’t believe his former teammate is antisemitic and commended Joe Tsai and the NBA for issuing statements condemning Irving’s postings.
“Let me say this. I was his teammate for two years and when Kyrie says, I’m not antisemitic, that I believe Kyrie when he tells me this. but then why leave that content up there? Why do that? That’s the question that everyone is curious about. I just want to commend Joe Tsai and the NBA for reacting very quickly to this before this got out hand.”
Meanwhile, on social media, Jordan Rabinowitz, a former executive in the Nets Digital Media, tweeted that the organization should get rid of Irving.
There is a significant amount of Jewish employees at BSE, represented at all levels of the company. I hope @joetsai1999 and Sean Marks do right by them and re-examine what it’s really worth to have this individual on their team.— Jordan (@JordanRab) October 30, 2022
I am very, very glad it is not my job to promote and market this person anymore. I would not have the stomach for it. pic.twitter.com/HGPpoYVFlE— Jordan (@JordanRab) October 30, 2022
- Nets, NBA react to controversial social media posts from Kyrie Irving (Video) - Nancy Newman & Rebecca Lobo - YES Network
- Irving says he embraces all religions, defends right to post - Brian Mahoney - AP
- Kyrie Irving Defends Antisemitic Documentary and Conspiracy Theory - Sopan Deb - New York Times
- Kyrie Irving doubles down on controversial book tweet: ‘I’m not going to stand down’ - Brian Lewis - New York Post
- Kyrie Irving doesn’t believe he’s anti-Semitic amid criticism: ‘Not justified’ - Jared Schwartz - New York Post
- Kyrie Irving’s news conference and a stunning loss: Scenes from a disastrous night in Brooklyn - Alex Schiffer - The Athletic
- Nets star Kyrie Irving denies being an antisemite despite promoting hateful film - Laura Albanese - Newsday
- Kyrie Irving denies movie shared in tweet was Antisemitic: ‘I’m not going to stand down on anything I believe in’ - Kristian Winfield - New York Daily News
- Nets’ Kyrie Irving defends his post about antisemitic movie - Nick Friedell - ESPN
- Kyrie Irving explains sharing anti-Semitic film on Twitter, responds to media backlash - Garrett Stepien - SNY
- Kyrie Irving responds to criticism following promotion of antisemitic film - Ryan Chichester - WFAN
- Kyrie Irving: “The “Anti-Semitic” label that is being pushed on me is not justified” - Kurt Helin - NBC Sports