Suspended Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving is expected to return to the court on Sunday against the Memphis Grizzlies at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, league sources with knowledge of the situation told The Athletic on Thursday.
The Nets suspended Irving at the start of November for a minimum of five games after he shared a link to an antisemitic documentary on his Twitter account, then refused to “unequivocally say he has no antisemitic views.”
Irving will miss his eighth consecutive game on Thursday night against Portland as he continues to serve that suspension.
However, sources close to the Nets and the league told The Athletic that both sides are happy with what Irving has done throughout the process, especially given the number of community leaders he has met with.
One source, who was granted anonymity because he was not authorized to speak on the matter, said that Irving chose to go “above and beyond” what was asked of him.
Irving apologized for his actions shortly after the team suspended him. The suspension came after the start met with the media on October 29 and November 3 and failed to unequivocally apologize for posting the content and fully condemn the film.
In response, the NBA and National Basketball Players Association made multiple public comments admonishing hate speech, with NBA commissioner Adam Silver delivering a strong statement that mentioned he planned to meet with the seven-time All-Star.
Last week, Silver indeed met with Irving for what was described as “a productive and understanding visit”.
Silver, who is Jewish, later said that after meeting with Irving, he has “no doubt that he’s not antisemitic.”
“We had a direct and candid conversation,” Silver told the New York Times. “He’s someone I’ve known for a decade, and I’ve never heard an antisemitic word from him or, frankly, hate directed at any group.”
Irving has also met with Nets co-owners Joe Tsai and Clara Wu Tsai.
“We spent quality time to understand each other and it’s clear to me that Kyrie does not have any beliefs of hate towards Jewish people or any group,” Tsai tweeted on November 11. “The Nets and Kyrie, together with the NBA and NBPA, are working constructively toward a process of forgiveness, healing and education.”
Following Irving’s suspension, The Athletic reported that the team had informed him of a list of six steps he needed to take in order to return to the team.
“(The Anti-Defamation League) never set the terms for Kyrie’s return. At the end of the day, it is up to the Nets, the NBA and the union to figure out whether it’s appropriate for him to return or not,” said Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, told The Athletic on Thursday.
“I can say from my point of view that I take Kyrie at his word that he is truly sorry and that he’s willing to put in the work to educate himself and engage in constructive dialogue. I also trust that the Nets, the NBA and the union are making the right call and if they’re satisfied, I have no reason not to be.”