It might be coming to an end, but we still need to talk about the length of Kyrie Irving’s suspension.
On November 3rd, Kyrie Irving was given a suspension of a minimum of five games. He missed
The reason for the suspension is that he had posted a link to a documentary that made the case that African Americans were of Hebrew heritage, and that the reason that’s not common knowledge is that there has been a century’s long cover-up that includes exaggerating the Holocaust.
It was definitely something that Kyrie Irving needed to clarify, and when given the opportunity, it became clear to any honest observer that the only information that Kyrie had retained from this so-called documentary is the overall concept of black people in America having a much richer history than just being the descendants of slaves, and that he felt no need to apologize.
I’ve talked before about the factors that make people like Kyrie Irving search for meaning in their ancestry, and even got into the fact that as an enrolled member of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, there are millions of white Americans that actually do believe that the Book of Mormon teaches Irving’s heritage goes back to lost Israelite tribes.
The backlash has never been about whether anyone believes they have Ancient Hebrew Heritage. The backlash was about whether Kyrie believed the anti-Semitic tropes presented by the film, and whether there has been a Jewish conspiracy to keep black people down.
That particular unanswered question might have justified Kyrie’s initial suspension, but Nets owner Joe Tsai said that he’s met with Kyrie and his family, and that ” it’s clear… that Kyrie does not have any beliefs of hate towards Jewish people or any group.”
Well if it’s so clear, why wasn’t Kyrie Irving back on the court right away?
According to NBA commissioner Adam Silver, “Whether or not Kyrie Irving is antisemitic is not relevant to the damage caused by the posting of hateful content.”
Maybe Adam Silver is right here, but his own track record in this area makes Kyrie’s continued suspension at the hands of the Nets seem rather excessive.
Back in 2011, the NBA dropped a $100,000 hammer on Kobe Bryant for shouting a gay slur at at a referee. Kobe was allowed to apologize and make it clear that what he said was not a reflection of his feelings toward the gay community. David Stern was commissioner at the time.
After Adam Silver took over as commissioner, Rajon Rondo did the same thing, calling a referee a gay slur in a much more aggressive manner. That official responded by publicly coming out of the closet as gay in an effort to help NBA players realize the impact of their words. And on top of that, Rajon Rondo lied about what he said, and only apologized on Twitter after witnesses and video review showed that Rondo was lying.
Rondo received a one-game suspension amounting to an $86,000 fine.
Kyrie is seven games and almost $500,000 deep in fines, has offered another $500,000 to the anti-defamation league, and is going to lose out on tens of millions of dollars in Nike endorsement deals.
And in the words of Joe Tsai, does not hate Jewish people OR ANY GROUP.
The suspension was objectively excessive. It was historically excessive. And at the end of the day, it’s all because Kyrie Irving watched a documentary that it’s extremely clear he didn’t comprehend, and posted a link to it without context.
Look, if a baseball pitcher posted a link to a place where he bought a “I love the KKK” t-shirt, we’d all be demanding answers. But if the answer was earnestly that he’s not racist, but instead that he’s just a little bit dumb and thought the K’s stood for strikeouts, how much punishment would be necessary before he was allowed to take the mound again?
The longer this suspension went on, the more backlash Adam Silver and Joe Tsai are risked. LeBron James has already called for Kyrie Irving’s reinstatement. NBPA president Jaylen Brown has taken it a step further, publicly blasting Nike and pointing out that Joe Tsai’s investment in companies that supply China with the technological means to spy on, and ultimately persecute, it’s Uygher Muslim population.
Influential players being willing to take on both of the NBA’s traditionally bulletproof untouchables- Nike and China, to get Kyrie Irving back on the court, is something I guarantee no one has a plan to handle.
It’s as simple as this- once it was determined that the comments cam from a place of ignorance and not malice, they should have immediately let Kyrie play, and do the work of learning about the very real history of the persecution of the Jewish people while on the court.
Let that sink in.