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Kyrie Irving: Fans wear ‘Fight Antisemitism’ tees to Nets game following player’s tweet

Fans with matching shirts look on as Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving (11) walks by during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Indiana Pacers, Monday, Oct. 31, 2022, in New York. Canadian Press

While sitting courtside, several spectators wore “Fight Antisemitism” T-shirts to the Brooklyn-Indiana NBA game on Monday night, only days after Nets player Kyrie Irving tweeted promotion for a movie with anti-Jewish propaganda.

The identity of the T-shirt-clad protesters is not yet known.

On Thursday, Irving, 30, shared a link to the movie Hebrews to Negroes: Wake Up Black America on Twitter. The film, which is reportedly directed by a Holocaust denier, claims to uncover “the true identity of the Children of Israel.”

The film, which is said to be “stuffed with antisemitic tropes,” asserts that Jewish people have “outsized control over society, especially in industries like banking and the media.”

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Irving, no stranger to public backlash, triggered loud outrage from within the NBA community and beyond.

He defended his tweet about the film (which is now deleted) on Saturday, when he said he is “not a divisive person when it comes to religion” during a post-game press conference.

“I am an OMNIST and I meant no disrespect to anyone’s religious beliefs,” read another tweet from Irving, posted Saturday. “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.”

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The owner of the Brooklyn Nets, Joe Tsai, tweeted his disappointment in Irving’s choice to promote the movie.

“I’m disappointed that Kyrie appears to support a film based on a book full of anti-semitic disinformation,” he wrote. “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.”

The NBA also issued a statement condemning antisemitism but did not mention Irving by name.

“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 league wrote.

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Now-former Nets coach Steve Nash, at the time, claimed that “the organization has spoken to Kyrie about it.”

Nash, however, was fired as coach of the Nets on Tuesday after a disappointing opening to the season for the Brooklyn team.

Irving was not present for most of the Nets’ home games last season, as the NBA player refused to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. At the time, vaccination was mandated by the New York City government.

The Nets then refused to re-sign Irving as a player, meaning this season could be Irving’s last as a member of the team.

The incident comes at a time when antisemitic sentiment is on the rise among some pop culture figures, most notably rapper Ye.

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