Nets guard Kyrie Irving gestures in the first half of...

Nets guard Kyrie Irving gestures in the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Indiana Pacers at Barclays Center on Saturday, Oct. 29, 2022. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

In a fiery postgame news conference Saturday night, Kyrie Irving doubled down on his decision to tweet the link for a movie that is largely considered antisemitic, even as Nets owner Joe Tsai condemned his actions the night before, calling them “wrong” and “hurtful.”

Irving on Thursday published a tweet and Instagram story linking the Amazon page for the film “Hebrews to Negroes: Wake up Black America.’’ On Saturday, he pushed back against the idea that promoting the 2018 documentary, which posits that Jews are central to anti-Black racism, makes him an antisemite.

“I’m not going to stand down on anything that I believe,” he said. “I’m only going to get stronger because I’m not alone. I have a whole army around me.”

Irving said he was not promoting the movie but did say it is a learning tool.

“I’m all over the place when it comes to really elevating my consciousness, because I didn’t get it in school,” he said. “All I did was get seven hours a day being indoctrinated and brainwashed on a history that doesn’t belong to me or my ancestors . . . I watched it and read books. I had a lot of time last year to read a lot. To read a whole bunch, good and bad about the truth of our world.”

When pressed on why he would post something that would lead people to think he might have antisemitic leanings, Irving got into a heated exchange with a reporter when he dodged the question. “Oh, you’re not answering the question,” Irving mimicked before implying the reporter was pressing him for social media clout.

Before that, Irving also tweeted: “I am an OMNIST [one who believes in all religions] 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. I embrace and want to learn from all walks of life and religions.”

Last month, Irving shared a video from InfoWars conspiracy theorist Alex Jones about the “New World Order,” a conspiracy about a global shadow government. Jones recently received a $1 billion verdict against him for falsely saying that the Sandy Hook shooting was a hoax and has had prominent antisemites and white nationalists on his show, according to the Anti-Defamation League.

Irving says he does not support Jones or the Sandy Hook conspiracy. Of the “New World Order” theory, which has antisemitic origins, he said: “My post was a post that Alex Jones did in the early '90s or late '90s about secret societies in America and cults. And it’s true. I wasn’t identifying [or campaigning] for Alex Jones or anything.”

The NBA, in a statement, broadly condemned antisemitic hate speech but did not name Irving. “We will continue to work with all members of the NBA community to ensure everyone understands the impact of their words and actions,” it said.

Coach Steve Nash said he had “no idea” if Irving’s actions will lead to a suspension. Nash added that he and the team aren’t intimately acquainted with the movie, which, according to a breakdown in Rolling Stone, is based on a book that quotes the virulently antisemitic “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion” and asks if there’s any connection between Judaism and devil worship. These tropes are in line with extremist factions of the Black Hebrew Israelites, of which “some, but not all, are outspoken anti-Semites and racists,” according to the Anti-Defamation League.

“It’s on Amazon public platform,” Irving said. “There’s things being posted every day. I’m no different from the next human being, so don’t treat me any different. You guys come in here and make up this powerful influence that I have over top of the adultery [sic] of, you cannot post that. Why not? . . . I’m not comparing the Jews to Blacks, I’m not comparing the whites to Blacks. I’m not doing that. That conversation is dismissive and it constantly revolves around the rhetoric of who are the chosen people of God. I’m not here to argue over a culture or a person or a religion and what they believe. This is what is here. It’s on a public platform. Did I do anything illegal?”

Late Friday, Tsai tweeted, “I’m disappointed that Kyrie appears to support a film based on a book full of anti-semitic disinformation. 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.” He added: “This is bigger than basketball.”

The team also sent out a statement Friday decrying Irving’s actions and saying it was working with the Anti-Defamation League.

Said Irving: “Did I hurt anybody? Did I harm anybody? Am I going out and saying that I hate one specific group of people? So out of all the judgment that people got out of me posting I just — without talking to me, and I respect what Joe said, but there has a lot to do with not ego or pride, with how proud I am be of African heritage but also to be living as a free Black man here in America knowing the historical complexities for me to get here.”

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