Until Friday night, no NBA superstar let alone active player had criticized Kyrie Irving’s promotion of an antisemitic video, then LeBron James broke the silence.
James said that his former NBA champion teammate had “caused some harm to a lot of people” and that he did not “condone” it. Speaking post-game, James was asked about the controversy and suspension.
“It’s simple. Me, personally, I don’t condone any hate to any kinds, any race, to Jewish communities, to Black communities, to Asian communities. You guys know where I stand,” James said after the Lakers loss to the Jazz.
“I believe what Kyrie did caused some harm to a lot of people,” James continued. “He has since, over the last – today, or was it yesterday? – he apologized. But he caused some harm, and I think it’s unfortunate. I don’t stand on the position to harm people when it comes to your voice or your platform or anything. So, it doesn’t matter what color your skin is, how tall you are, what position you are in. If you are promoting or soliciting or saying harmful things to any community that harm people, then I don’t respect it. I don’t condone it.”
NBA players have been criticized, mainly by former NBA Hall of Famers, for not condemning what Irving did.
Also, Friday night, the NBA’s only Jewish player spoke about the hurt and fear caused by issue. Deni Avdija, an Israeli national who played for the Wizards vs. the Nets, explained how Irving’s platforms, with nearly 20 million followers, can influence those who see him as a role model.
“People look up to him,” Deni Avdija said. “You know what I’m saying? So you can think whatever you want, you can do whatever you want — just I don’t think it’s right to go out in public and publish it and let little kids that follow you see it and the generations that come after to think like that. Because it’s not true. And I don’t think it’s fair. Hopefully, he’s sorry for what he said. Other than that, I don’t have any other room to say anything about it. Y’all probably can guess my comments on it. But that’s about it.”
Previously, the only player to express his feelings was Robin Lopez who retweeted a Kareem Abdul-Jabbar substack criticizing Irving. The NBPA, the players’ union, put out a release condemning hate speech but did not specifically refer to the Nets controversy.
James confirmed a recent Andscape report that said his production company declined to air an episode of “The Shop” with Kanye West after he made antisemitic remarks on the show.
- LEBRON JAMES SAYS KYRIE IRVING ‘HARMED A LOT OF PEOPLE’ WITH RECENT ACTIONS - Mark Medina - NBA.com
- LeBron James speaks out against Kyrie Irving’s anti-Semitism: ‘Don’t respect it’ - Colin Loughran - New York Post
- Deni Avdija, the only Jewish NBA player, shares unique take on Kyrie Irving antisemitism saga - Joey Mistretta - Clutch Points