Kyrie Irving
Kyrie IrvingMarty Jean-Louis/Sipa USA via Reuters Connect

NBA star Kyrie Irving is under fire over a tweet promoting a movie widely viewed as antisemitic.

Irving, who plays for the Brooklyn Nets, on Thursday shared a link to a documentary called "Hebrews to Negroes: Wake Up Black America," based on a book of the same name by Ronald Dalton Jr. Both the book and movie have been criticized for their antisemitic message.

Rolling Stone magazine noted that the documentary Irving shared puts forward "ideas in line with more extreme factions of the Black Hebrew Israelites, which have a long history of misogyny, homophobia, xenophobia, Islamophobia, and especially antisemitism.”

Brooklyn Nets owner Joe Tsai expressed public disappointment in Irving in a tweet on Friday.

“I’m disappointed that Kyrie appears to support a film based on a book full of anti-semitic disinformation. I want to sit down and make sure he understands this is hurtful to all of us, and as a man of faith, it is wrong to promote hate based on race, ethnicity or religion,” wrote Tsai, adding, “This is bigger than basketball.”

The NBA on Saturday issued a statement of its own, though it did not mention Irving by name.

“Hate speech of any kind is unacceptable and runs counter to the NBA's values of equality, inclusion and respect. We believe we all have a role to play in ensuring such words or ideas, including antisemitic ones, are challenged and refuted and we will continue working with all members of the NBA community to ensure that everyone understands the impact of their words and actions,” the NBA said.

Irving on Saturday took to Twitter and denied he is antisemitic, though users noted he had not removed his initial tweet promoting the movie.

“I am an OMNIST and I meant no disrespect to anyone’s religious beliefs. The ‘Anti-Semitic’ label that is being pushed on me is not justified and does not reflect the reality or truth I live in everyday. I embrace and want to learn from all walks of life and religions,” Irving wrote.

Later on Saturday, during the broadcast of the Nets’ game against the Indiana Pacers, former NBA player and Nets color commentator Richard Jefferson criticized Irving over the tweet.

"It is disappointing, Kyrie says that he's not antisemitic and these things, but the tweet is still up. The tweet is still up there," said Jefferson.

Irving, who was named the Rookie of the Year after being selected by the Cleveland Cavaliers with the first overall pick in the 2011 NBA draft, is talented but is known for some controversies over the years.

In February 2017, Irving stated in an interview that he believes that the Earth is flat. He later was less forceful in advancing this belief, encouraging people to "do their own research" into the topic

In September 2017, Irving denied these claims and said that media misunderstood him as he was joking. However, in a June 2018 interview, when asked if he would admit that the world is round, he said "I don't know. I really don't", and added that people should "do [their] own research for what [they] want to believe in" because "Our educational system is flawed". Several months later, he apologized for his original comments.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Irving refused to receive a vaccine against the virus, causing him to be unable to suit up for the Nets for the majority of the 2021-22 NBA season.