LeBron James condemned hate speech of any kind — including antisemitism — following the Lakers’ 130-116 loss to Utah, saying he has “love” for Kyrie Irving but the Nets guard “caused some harm to a lot of people.”
“It doesn’t matter what color your skin is, how tall you are, what position you’re in. If you are promoting or soliciting or saying harmful things to any community that harms people, then I don’t respect it,” James said. “I don’t condone it.”
James pointed to his production company’s decision not to air an episode last month during which Kanye West continued to lean on antisemitic stereotypes and hate speech.
“You guys know where I stand,” James said. “And that’s part of the reason why I didn’t air ‘The Shop’ episode, why we kicked that out of the archives. Because it was hate conversation going on there. And I don’t represent that. There’s no place in this world for it. Nobody can benefit from that.”
Irving posted a link to a film on his Twitter page without comment. The film included a quote attributed to Adolf Hitler and a denial of the Holocaust.
In subsequent interviews, Irving was combative about the notion he could be antisemitic while also failing to explicitly disavow the antisemitic material in the film. The Nets placed Irving on indefinite suspension for at least five games Thursday after he again failed to explicitly condemn the messages in the film.
Irving apologized in an Instagram post Thursday night.
“To All Jewish families and Communities that are hurt and affected from my post, I am deeply sorry to have caused you pain, and I apologize,” he wrote in the post. “I initially reacted out of emotion to being unjustly labeled Anti-Semitic, instead of focusing on the healing process of my Jewish Brothers and Sisters that were hurt from the hateful remarks made in the Documentary. I want to clarify any confusion on where I stand fighting against Anti-semitcism [sic] by apologizing for posting the documentary without context and a factual explanation outlining the specific beliefs in the Documentary I agreed with and disagreed with. I had no intentions to disrespect any Jewish cultural history regarding the Holocaust or perpetuate any hate.”
Irving’s partnership with Nike was suspended on Friday.
“I can tell you this, it’s simple,” James said. “Me personally, I don’t condone any hate to any kind. To any race. To Jewish communities, to Black communities, to Asian communities.”
Asked what steps Irving should take next in search of resolution, James said he wasn’t sure.
“I don’t know. Because at the end of the day, Kyrie is his own man. He stands up in front of the media and speaks. He is a man and [from] a great family,” James said of his former teammate. “He’s a great … I love the kid. He’s not even a kid no more. He’s 30.
“… I don’t know the direction, the steps that he takes, but he’s apologized for what he said and I hope that he understands that what he said was harmful to a lot of people. And we as humans, none of us are perfect, but I hope he understands what he did and the actions that he took are just harmful to a lot of people. I really didn’t get into it too much. But, I understand that when you’re hurting anybody, I understand that. That is just common sense.”