A group of Jewish protesters had a message for Kyrie Irving during the Brooklyn Nets versus Indiana Pacers basketball game on Monday night (Oct. 31). While sitting courtside, the troop wore yarmulkes and “fight antisemitism” T-shirts in response to Irving‘s latest tweets and commentary about the controversial term.
The eight-person group sat near the Pacers bench, wearing the visibly noticeable shirts as Irving played. A few made piercing eye contact with the Nets’ point guard. According to the New York Post, Irving acknowledged the group of seven by giving them a thumbs up, although one of the members perceived his gesture as “sarcastic.”
Irving’s backlash follows a tweet he sent out linking the film, “Hebrews to Negroes: Wake Up Black America.” The docu-film has been criticized for having stereotypes and tropes throughout its message.
Per the outlet, Irving didn’t speak with press following the game, but he did talk to the group of protesters claiming to have been “grateful.” Protester Aaron Jungreis told the outlet, “I was expecting that. Look at who you’re dealing with. But [the shirt] was really not for him. It was really for the Nets. They should not keep a guy like that around.”
Implying that he would cancel his season tickets, Jungreis replied “Oh, definitely. A lot of people are going to cancel, a lot of people. I think they have to discipline him in some way, and make it sincere for him hopefully, if it’s not sincere, I guess that’s the second best thing.”
Kyrie, 30, is standing by his tweet however, claiming to have, “meant no disrespect to anyone’s religious beliefs.”
On Saturday (Oct. 29),the self-proclaimed “omnist” tweeted: “The ‘Anti-Semitic’ label that is being pushed on me is not justified and does not reflect the reality or truth I live in everyday. I embrace and want to learn from all walks of life and religions.”
Nets owner, Joe Tsai spoke out in disapproval of Irving’s post. “I’m disappointed that Kyrie appears to support a film based on a book full of anti-semitic disinformation,” he tweeted. “I want to sit down and make sure he understands this is hurtful to all of us, and as a man of faith, it is wrong to promote hate based on race, ethnicity or religion.”
Kanye West — who pretty much sparked the current antisemitism conversation — called Kyrie a “real one,” for his actions.