NEW YORK (AP)NBA Commissioner Adam Silver wants an apology and Kyrie Irving still isn’t going to give one.
Shortly after Silver said Irving ”made a reckless decision” by tweeting out a link to a film containing antisemitic material last week, the Brooklyn Nets guard again stopped short of saying he was sorry for doing so.
Irving said some things in ”Hebrews to Negroes: Wake Up Black America” were untrue, but he didn’t say he shouldn’t have posted a link to it.
”I’m not the one who made the documentary,” Irving said after the Nets practiced Thursday.
Irving again said he meant no harm in posting the tweet – which he has since deleted – but didn’t apologize for doing so and instead asked reporters why they weren’t asking questions about the history of Blacks in America, saying 300 million of his ancestors are buried in the country.
”Where were you guys asking those same questions when I was a kid learning about the traumatic events of my familial history and what I’m proud to come from and proud to stand here,” Irving said, ”and why when I repeat myself that I’m not going to stand down, it has nothing to do with dismissing any other race or group people.
”I’m just proud of my heritage and what we’ve been through and the fact that this has pinned me against the Jewish community and I’m here answering questions of whether or not I’m sorry or not about something I didn’t create and was something I shared, and I’m telling everybody I’m taking responsibility, than that’s where I sit.”
Silver’s comments were the second statement the league office has issued on the latest Irving controversy, and the first in which Irving was referenced by name.
Irving and the Nets announced Wednesday, in conjunction with the Anti-Defamation League, that each would be donating $500,000 to anti-hate causes. But Silver felt Irving needed to go further.
”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,” the commissioner said.
Silver added that he will be meeting with Irving in person within the next week. The league’s first statement, clearly in reference to Irving’s tweet, said ”hate speech of any kind is unacceptable and runs counter to the NBA’s values of equality, inclusion and respect.”
Silver’s comments and Irving’s reluctance to apologize came hours before the FBI said it had received credible information about a ”broad” threat to synagogues in New Jersey, Irving’s home state.
The National Basketball Players Association also put out a statement this week echoing the NBA’s original comments. The NBPA also did not mention Irving by name; Irving is a vice president of the union and a member of its executive committee.
Asked what in the film he disagreed with, Irving responded: ”I think some of the criticism of the Jewish faith and the community for sure. Some points made in there that were unfortunate.”
During his first comments since a combative press conference Saturday in which he defended his right to post, Irving was asked specifically about his beliefs regarding the Holocaust.
”Those falsehoods are unfortunate,” Irving said, referring to content in the film. ”And it’s not that I don’t believe in the Holocaust. I never said that. Never, ever have said it. It’s not come out of my mouth. I never tweeted it. I never liked anything like it. So the Holocaust in itself is an event that means something to a large group of people that suffered something that could have been avoided.”
He was finally asked if he had any antisemitic beliefs.
”I cannot be antisemitic if I know where I come from,” Irving said.
ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt reacted to a video of Irving’s response to that question on Twitter by writing: ”The answer to the question `Do you have any antisemitic beliefs’ is always ”NO” without equivocation.
”We took (at)KyrieIrving at his word when he said he took responsibility, but today he did not make good on that promise,” Greenblatt added. ”Kyrie clearly has a lot of work to do.”
Golden State coach Steve Kerr said words matter, especially with how fast and far comments carry thanks to social media.
”We have to be more vigilant as a society,” Kerr said before the Warriors’ game in Orlando. ”We can’t be just accepting comments that are so destructive and insulting to people. And it’s crucial that everybody, whether you’re a professional athlete or not, it’s crucial that everybody think before they just throw stuff out there that can be so damaging.”
Irving didn’t say if he had taken part in the meetings between his representatives, the Nets and the ADL. He added that he isn’t afraid to continue speaking about his beliefs.
”So I take my full responsibility again, I repeat it, for posting something on my Instagram or Twitter that may have had some unfortunate falsehoods in it,” Irving said. ”But I also am a human being that’s 30 years old and I’ve been growing up in a country that’s told me that I wasn’t worth anything and I come from a slave class and I come from a people that are meant to be treated the way we’ve been treated every day.
”So I’m not here to compare anyone’s atrocities or tragic events that their families have dealt with, generations of time. I’m just here to continue to expose things that our world continues to put in darkness. I’m a light, I’m a beacon of light. It’s what I’m here to do.”
AP Basketball Writer Tim Reynolds and freelance writer Dick Scanlon in Orlando, Florida contributed to this report.
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