Fans wear ‘Fight Antisemitism’ shirts at Nets game amid Kyrie Irving backlash
Some fans in attendance at the Brooklyn Nets-Indiana Pacers basketball game on Monday wore “Fight Antisemitism” shirts amid the backlash surrounding a tweet from Nets guard Kyrie Irving.
Videos on social media showed several fans sitting between the scorer’s table and Indiana’s bench wearing the shirts during the YES Network’s telecast of the game Monday.
The protest stemmed from Irving, a seven-time NBA All-Star, tweeting a link last week to “Hebrews to Negroes: Wake Up Black America,” a 2018 film based on a 2015 book of the same name.
According to Rolling Stone, the film contains a number of antisemitic tropes.
Lindsay Haimm, one of the fans who took part in the demonstration, told NBC News that the group’s protests were aimed at antisemitism in general and not toward the Nets star in particular.
“Just anyone who has so many followers, speaking about antisemitism and him supporting this antisemitic movie, it speaks to so many people. So it’s so important that we’re able to take a stand,” Hiamm told the news outlet. “And it is upsetting to see all these antisemitic things that he is saying and for him to be a part of a team that we have loved for a while now.”
Hiamm, who works in advertising sales at NBC, also said that Irving did have a small exchange with the fans during the game, saying, “You guys are great in numbers. I’m grateful for you guys,” according to NBC News.
Nets owner Joe Tsai and the Anti-Defamation League, among others, have publicly criticized Irving for his stance on the issue.
Irving, who received media attention and criticism recently for his resistance to getting the COVID-19 vaccine and stance against vaccine mandates, publicly denied that he’s antisemitic and doubled down on his support of the film.
“I am an OMNIST and I meant no disrespect to anyone’s religious beliefs. 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,” Irving wrote in a tweet on Saturday. “I embrace and want to learn from all walks of life and religions.”
“Anti-Semitism has no place in our society. The NBPA is focused on creating an environment where everyone is accepted. We are committed to helping players fully understand that certain words can lead to hateful ideologies being spread, the National Basketball Players Association, the league’s players union, of which Irving serves as a vice president, said in a statement. “We will continue to work on identifying and combating all hate speech wherever it arises.”