June 15, 2024

Kyrie Irving ‘was very remorseful’ about sharing antisemitic documentary, Adam Silver says

BOSTON — As NBA commissioner Adam Silver sees it, Kyrie Irving’s return trip to the NBA Finals is a moment to celebrate.

It has been less than two years since Silver presided over the firestorm that Irving caused by promoting an antisemitic documentary on social media. Irving was ultimately suspended eight games in November of 2022 by the Brooklyn Nets, his team at the time, while Silver — who is Jewish — deemed Irving’s decision to share the documentary “reckless” while imploring Irving to issue “an unqualified apology.”

Silver would later play a pivotal part in the mutually agreed upon process that led to Irving’s return, which included Irving apologizing publicly and completing six “action items” in all.

While speaking to a small group of reporters at an NBA Cares event Friday, less than 24 hours after Irving’s Dallas Mavericks fell 107-89 to his old Boston Celtics team in Game 1, Silver reflected on the eight-time All-Star’s journey from those tumultuous times with the Nets to this modern-day experience that has been so much more positive. And when asked directly if he believed Irving had taken full accountability for his actions back then, Silver was emphatic in his support.

“Absolutely,” Silver said. “I think in our private conversations, which at the time included (former NBPA executive director) Tamika Tremaglio … he was very remorseful. He took responsibility. I think we all know he can be a bit stubborn, and I think he felt strongly that he needed to speak in his own words in terms of how he expressed himself in terms of an apology to the public.

“But there was no doubt for me — and I wouldn’t have said what I did at the time if I didn’t feel that he was absolutely remorseful and was committed to doing the right thing going forward, and also to being empathetic to how others might have perceived his comments.”

Less than two weeks after Irving’s tweet that sparked it all, Silver told the New York Times that he did not believe Irving was antisemitic. When looking back at that decision, Silver said, it was born out of the confidence he had in their relationship to that point.

The two of them first met during Irving’s 2010-11 season at Duke, Silver said, with legendary coach Mike Krzyzewski facilitating the introduction between two “Dukies.” Silver graduated from the university in 1984.

“I felt comfortable vouching for him, in essence, because I knew him,” Silver said. “I knew his character and felt that it was important that — while he acknowledged that he had made a mistake — that his entire career and character not be framed by one bad moment. I mean, having said that, he paid a price, of course, for that misstep. But he did a lot (to make amends).

“I won’t even go into the details, because he chose not to share it. But he saw it as an opportunity for himself to better himself, to become better educated about these issues. And again, he didn’t want that publicized, but I felt (that) he worked through those issues. But then the question was, ‘What was he going to learn from it?’ And I think the fact that he’s refocused himself on the game of basketball, on his family, on being a good member of the community, is great to see. And now I’m just enjoying watching him compete on the floor.”

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(Photo: Maddie Meyer / Getty Images)