LeBron James condemns antisemitism amid Kyrie Irving controversy

LeBron James condemned hate speech of all kinds — including anti-Semitism — after the Lakers’ 130-116 loss to Utah, saying he had “love” for Kyrie Irving, but the Nets guard “did some harm to a lot of people.”

“It doesn’t matter what your skin color is, how tall you are, what position you are in. If you encourage, solicit or say harmful things to a community that is harmful to people, I don’t respect that,” said James. “I don’t condone it.”

James referenced his production company’s decision not to air an episode last month in which Kanye West continued to rely on anti-Semitic stereotypes and hate speech.

“You know where I stand,” James said. “And that’s one of the reasons I didn’t air the ‘The Shop’ episode, why we threw it out of the archives. Because hate talk was going on there. And I don’t agree. 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 contained a quote attributed to Adolf Hitler and Holocaust denial.

In subsequent interviews, Irving was combative of the idea that he might be anti-Semitic, but also failed to explicitly dismiss the anti-Semitic material in the film. The Nets indefinitely suspended Irving for at least five games Thursday after he again failed to specifically condemn the messages in the film.

Irving apologized in an Instagram post Thursday night.

“To all Jewish families and communities hurt and affected by my post, I am deeply sorry for causing you any pain and I apologize,” he wrote in the post. “Initially, I reacted emotionally to being unfairly labeled an anti-Semite, rather than focusing on the healing process of my Jewish brothers and sisters who were hurt by the hateful remarks in the documentary. I want to clear up any confusion about where I stand in the fight against anti-Semitism [sic] by apologizing for posting the documentary without context and a factual statement outlining the specific beliefs in the documentary that I agreed and disagreed with. I had no intention of disregarding Jewish cultural history related to the Holocaust or perpetuating hatred.”

Irving’s partnership with Nike was suspended on Friday.

“I can tell you that, it’s very simple,” James said. “Personally, I don’t condone hatred. For every race. To Jewish communities, to black communities, to Asian communities.”

When asked what steps Irving should take next to find a solution, James said he wasn’t sure.

“I don’t know. Because at the end of the day, Kyrie is his own man. He stands in front of the media and speaks. He’s a man and a man [from] a great family,” James said of his former teammate. “He’s a great…I love the boy. He’s not even a kid anymore. he is 30

“…I don’t know the direction, the steps he’s taking, but he apologized for what he said and I hope he understands that what he said hurt a lot of people Has. And we as humans, none of us are perfect, but I hope he understands what he has done and the actions he has taken are just harmful to many people. I really didn’t bother too much with it. But I understand that if you hurt someone, I understand that. That’s just common sense.”

https://www.latimes.com/sports/lakers/story/2022-11-05/lebron-james-condemns-antisemitism-kyrie-irving-controversy LeBron James condemns antisemitism amid Kyrie Irving controversy

Emma Bowman

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