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

The Brooklyn Nets announced on Thursday that point guard Kyrie Irving would be suspended for “no less than five games” following backlash after he shared antisemitic content shared on Twitter.

“Over the last several days, we have made repeated attempts to work with Kyrie Irving to help him understand the harm and danger of his words and actions, which began with him publicizing a film containing deeply disturbing antisemitic hate. We believed that taking the path of education in this challenging situation would be the right one and thought that we had made progress with our joint commitment to eradicating hate and intolerance,” the team said in a statement.

“We were dismayed today, when given an opportunity in a media session, that Kyrie refused to unequivocally say he has no antisemitic beliefs, nor acknowledge specific hateful material in the film. This was not the first time he had the opportunity - but failed - to clarify,” it added.

“Such failure to disavow antisemitism when given a clear opportunity to do so is deeply disturbing, is against the values of our organization, and constitutes conduct detrimental to the team. Accordingly, we are of the view that he is currently unfit to be associated with the Brooklyn Nets. We have decided that Kyrie will serve a suspension without pay until he satisfies a series of objective remedial measures that address the harmful impact of his conduct and the suspension period served is no less than five games,” the state concluded.

News of Irving’s suspension came hours after NBA Commissioner Adam Silver published a statement in which he criticized Irving over the antisemitic content and for failing to apologize for posting it.

“Kyrie Irving made a reckless decision to post a link to a film containing deeply offensive antisemitic material,” said Silver, who is Jewish, in the statement.

“While we appreciate the fact that he agreed to work with the Brooklyn Nets and the Anti-Defamation League to combat antisemitism and other forms of discrimination, I am disappointed that he has not offered an unqualified apology and more specifically denounced the vile and harmful content contained in the film he chose to publicize,” added the Commissioner.

“I will be meeting with Kyrie in person in the next week to discuss this situation,” he concluded.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver
NBA Commissioner Adam SilverJennifer Graylock/Sipa USA via Reuters Connect

Irving last Thursday caused an uproar when he 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.

After the backlash, Irving deleted the controversial tweet but not before he defended his right to share it, getting into a heated exchange with ESPN reporter Nick Friedell following Brooklyn’s loss to Indiana on Saturday night.

On Tuesday night, TNT basketball analysts Shaquille O’Neal and Charles Barkley ripped Irving over the antisemitic tweet, branding him an “idiot”.

The two former players also criticized the NBA’s handling of the situation and said they believed Irving should have been reprimanded and even suspended.

On Wednesday, Irving and the Nets issued a joint statement with the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) in which they announced they will each donate $500,000 in the wake of Irving's controversial post.

Silver’s statement on Thursday is much more sharply worded than the initial statement issued by the NBA last week, which did not mention Irving by name and only said that “hate speech of any kind is unacceptable and runs counter to the NBA's values of equality, inclusion and respect.”