After being slapped on the knuckles by the Nets and their owner, Joe Tsai, for his tweet highlighting a film with anti-Semitic tropes, Kyrie Irving was inevitably asked about the issue after the Nets game.
The leader had however tried to demine the situation upstream, on Twitter. “I am an OMNIST and I did not mean to disrespect anyone’s religious beliefs. The label “anti-Semitic” that is stuck on me is not justified and does not reflect the reality or the truth in which I live every day. I am open and I want to learn from all walks of life and all religions” he had thus published on his account.
Of course, that wasn’t enough to save him from questions about this new controversy, leading to a confused and tense press conference. Here is the full transcript of the conversation.
Meghan Triplett (journalist at YES Network) : Kyrie, before tonight, you received a lot of negative reactions. Do you have an answer or a reaction to all this?
Kyrie Irving : What kind of reactions are you talking about?
Meghan Triplet : Some wonder…
Kyrie Irving : Who ?
Meghan Triplet : Fans, and there was a statement from Joe Tsai on the tweet you posted. Was there a response, other than the tweet you posted?
“What I post does not mean that I support everything that is said”
Kyrie Irving : Yes, I will explain the day to you. I went home to get ready for the game, and I was on Amazon Prime, and I’m sitting there, with my phone at the same time. I usually do these things. I watch a documentary, an educational program that talks about history, finance or the state of the world. I’m all over the place when it comes to, you know, really raising my awareness because I didn’t get the opportunity in school. All I did there was get indoctrinated and brainwashed seven hours a day on a story that doesn’t belong to me or my ancestors. So that day, in particular, I went home and I was on Google. Of course, people love this search engine; I wasn’t looking for antisemitic stuff or anything specific about any race. I looked up my name and what it means and it is a title given to Christ, Philippians: 211. In Hebrew, my name translates to “Yahweh”. So I went to Amazon Prime. I thought, “You know what? Let’s see if there are any documentaries on Yahweh. I went to the search bar, typed in “Yahweh.” It appeared. And I shared it on my platform, it was my evening. As far as backlash or what people are saying, it’s 2022. History shouldn’t be hidden from anyone, and I’m not a divisive person when it comes to religion. I embrace all strata of society. You see it on all my platforms. I speak to all races, all cultures, all religions. And I would answer that it is not a question of educating oneself on what is Semitism or anti-Semitism. Rather, it is about knowing where the roots of the words are, where they come from and understanding that this is an African heritage that also belongs to the people. Africa is there, whether we want to ignore it or not. So the claims of anti-Semitism, who are God’s original chosen people? And so these religious conversations, it’s a big no-no, I don’t live my life like that. I don’t live my life that way, sorry. I grew up in a melting pot, and I mean a melting pot of all races. Whites, blacks, reds, yellows, Jews, Christians, Muslims. You see, the way I live my life now, I’m not here to divide. So they might push their agenda – I don’t mean, because I don’t identify with a group or a race of people, but I’m in a unique position with influence in my community. And what I post does not mean that I support anything that is said, or anything that is done, or that I campaign for anything. All I do is post stuff for people in my community and those it’s really going to affect. If anyone else has criticism, it’s not for them.
Brian Lewis (New York Post reporter) : I hope I understood what you said correctly and I want to make sure I got it right because I don’t want to…
Kyrie Irving : I don’t expect understanding from a media conglomerate that talks honestly about basketball, and then brings up religion as if it’s tied to the times when it’s convenient for people to bring it up. So please be direct in your question so we can move on and I can talk about the game and go home to my son Eloheim and my wife Marlene, ok?
Brian Lewis : Am I to understand that what you shared is not something you have already looked at there?
Kyrie Irving : I had looked at it.
Brian Lewis : Okay, so you saw it.
Kyrie Irving : I saw it. I had a lot of time last year, a lot. I’ve read a lot, good and bad, about the truth of it all.
Brian Lewis : So, do you understand those who might imply that this tweet has anti-Semitic leanings? And we’re asking that because the tweet is still there, so…
Kyrie Irving : We are in 2022, it is on Amazon, a public platform. It’s up to you whether you want to go watch it. There are things that are posted every day. I’m no different from any other human being, so don’t treat me any different. You come here and you make up this powerful influence that I have on… “You can’t post that”. Why not ? Why not ? Everyone posts lots of stuff. You’ve seen the word nigger pop up on Twitter, right? I haven’t heard any outcry about it. I am not here to divide on what is happening here or there, I am not comparing Jews to blacks. I don’t compare whites to blacks, I don’t do that. This conversation is contemptuous, and it constantly revolves around the rhetoric of who God’s chosen people are. And I’m not here to argue any person, culture or religion about what they believe. No, that’s what’s here. It’s on a public platform. Did I do something illegal?
Brian Lewis : Nope.
Kyrie Irving : Okay.
Brian Lewis : Nope.
“I’m not going to back down on what I believe in. I’m only going to get stronger because I’m not alone. I have an entire army around me”
Kyrie Irving : Yes, that’s what I’m saying, did I do something illegal? Did I hurt anyone, did I hurt anyone? Did I say I hate a specific group of people? I respect what Joe (Tsai) said, but it has a lot to do with, not the ego or the pride of having African heritage, but living as a free black man here in America, knowing the historical complexities that allowed me to get here. So I’m not going to back down on what I believe in. I’m only going to get stronger because I’m not alone. I have an entire army around me.
Nick Friedell (ESPN reporter) : Kyrie, speaking of promotion, why did you decide to promote a statement by Alex Jones?
Kyrie Irving : This was a few weeks ago, I don’t agree with Alex Jones’ position, his story, the lawsuit he had with Sandy Hook, or any of the kids who felt of having to relive trauma or parents who had to relive trauma, nor with looking down on all the lives that were lost during this tragic event. My post was a post by Alex Jones that he did in the early 90s or late 90s about secret societies in America of a cult. And it is the truth. So I didn’t identify with anything, I wasn’t campaigning for Alex Jones or anything. I was just there to post. And it’s funny, and it’s actually hilarious because of all the things I posted that day, that’s the post that everyone chose to see. It takes us back to how our world works. I’m not here to complain about it, I exist, that’s all.
Nick Friedell : And to continue with the promotion of the film and the book….
Kyrie Irving : Can you please stop calling it a promotion? What am I promoting?
Nick Friedell : You put it on your platform.
Kyrie Irving : But it’s me who promotes it? Do you see me doing…
Nick Friedell : By posting it, people will say…
Kyrie Irving : Yes, I published it, like you publish things, right?
Nick Friedell : Yes, but I…
Kyrie Irving : Ok. You post things there for a living, don’t you?
Nick Friedell : True, but my articles are not filled with anti-Semitic stuff.
Kyrie Irving : Moving forward. Let’s move on. Let’s go ahead, don’t dehumanize me here.
Nick Friedell : I don’t, I don’t do that. You are free to post whatever you want.
Kyrie Irving : I can post whatever I want, so say so, and let’s move on to the next question.
Nick Friedell : But Kyrie, you have to understand that…
Kyrie Irving : I don’t have to understand anything from you.
Nick Friedell : It is not me.
Kyrie Irving : Nothing.
Nick Friedell : By posting this…
Kyrie Irving : It’s nothing, it’s just people you make up, man. Move on.
Nick Friedell : But by posting this…
Kyrie Irving : Next question, next question. Do you have any other questions for me?
Nick Friedell : People will say, ‘Do you have any anti-Semitic beliefs?’
Kyrie Irving : Because it will make a music video that will make him happy. Are there any other questions?
Nick Friedell : But you do not answer the question.
Kyrie Irving: *mocking* “Uhh uh uh uh you’re not answering the question, oh my god. Let’s make another Instagram clip so I can be famous again. ” Next question ?
The Nets communications manager then interrupts the interview, as Kyrie Irving addresses Nick Friedell one last time before leaving the room.
Kyrie Irving : I wish you felt the same way about black reproductive rights, about the things that really matter, instead of what I post. Fix your life, man.