Kyrie defends post: ‘Not going to stand down’

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NEW YORK — Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving said Saturday night he does not believe he did anything wrong in promoting an antisemitic film and book on his social media accounts.

Speaking for the first time since he posted about a movie called “Hebrews to Negroes: Wake Up Black America,” Irving made it clear he was not going to “stand down” on what he believed in despite Nets owner Joe Tsai and the NBA both releasing statements condemning Irving’s decision.

“I’m not here to argue over a person or a culture or a religion and what they believe,” Irving said following the Nets 125-116 loss to the Indiana Pacers. “Nah, this is what’s here. It’s on a public platform. Did I do anything illegal? Did I hurt anybody? Did I harm anybody? Am I going out and saying that I hate one specific group of people? So out of all of the judgment that people got for me posting, without talking to me, and then I respect what Joe [Tsai] said, but there has a lot to do with not ego or pride of how proud I am to be [of] African heritage, but also to be living as a free Black man here in America, knowing the historical complexities for me to get here.

“So I’m not going to stand down on anything that I believe in. I’m only going to get stronger because I’m not alone. I have a whole army around me.”

As Rolling Stone initially pointed out in its article regarding Irving’s social-media post, the movie he promoted is “stuffed with antisemitic tropes.” Irving posted a tweet Thursday that linked to the film’s Amazon page. The movie, which was released in 2018, is based on a 2015 book by the same name.

Irving also made it clear Saturday night that he is not a supporter of conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, despite having posted a video of Jones’ last month. Jones recently lost a defamation lawsuit in Connecticut court and was ordered to pay almost $1 billion to families of victims of the 2012 Sandy Hook mass shooting “for falsely claiming they were actors who faked the tragedy,” according to Reuters.

“That was a few weeks ago,” Irving said. “I do not stand with Alex Jones’ position, narrative, court case that he had with Sandy Hook, or any of the kids that felt like they had to relive trauma. Or parents that had to relive trauma. Or to be dismissive to all the lives that were lost during that tragic event. My post was a post from Alex Jones that he did in the early ’90s or late ’90s about secret societies in America of occults. And it’s true.

“So I wasn’t identifying with anything of being a [campaigner] for Alex Jones or anything. … It’s actually hilarious because out of all the things I posted that day, that was the one post that everyone chose to see. It just goes back to the way our world is and works. I’m not here to complain about it, I just exist.”

After a contentious back and forth at the end of his news conference, Irving headed back toward the Nets’ locker room and said, “I wish we felt the same about Black reproductive rights. And all the things that actually matter than what I’m posting.”

Nets coach Steve Nash said before Saturday’s game that Irving had conversations with members of the Nets organization in regard to his decision to promote the book and film, but he declined to name whom those conversations were with.

Nets star forward Kevin Durant was asked after the game whether Irving’s social media choices, and the backlash that has ensued from them, has had any impact on the Nets. Brooklyn dropped its fourth straight game Saturday and is now 1-5.

“Absolutely not,” Durant said. “The only impact is you guys and everybody outside the locker room.”

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