9: 23 p.m. UPDATE: Brown clarified his post, stating that he was not aware of the specific group outside of Barclay’s Center tonight.
Original Story Below:
A large crowd of Black Hebrew Israelites gathered outside Brooklyn’s Barclays Center to support Kyrie Irving’s return to the Nets on Sunday. Irving was suspended on November 4, a week after he’d promoted an antisemitic film on social media and repeatedly refused to apologize or state he didn’t hold antisemitic beliefs.
Many of the gathered group distributed flyers containing Hebrew Israelite propaganda. The vast majority of the crowd appeared to be wearing shirts bearing the name “Israel United in Christ.” According to the Anti-Defamation League, the New York-based group “is an extreme and antisemitic sect of Black Hebrew Israelites (BHI) who aim to spread the ideology as widely as possible.”
Jaylen Brown, who, like Irving, is a vice president of the NBA Player’s Association, quote tweeted a video of the chanting supporters, simply stating “Energy”
Irving’s extended absence from the Nets came after the NBA star shared a film titled “Hebrews to Negroes: Wake Up Black America” on Twitter and Instagram. The film, which contained false quotes attributed to Adolf Hitler and unambiguous Holocaust denial, promotes the idea that Black people are the real Israelites from the Bible.
After Kyrie refuted opportunities to apologize and expressly decry antisemitism, Brooklyn Nets owner Joe Tsa suspended the point guard for at least five games and said Irving will need to meet a “series of objective remedial measures that address the harmful impact of his conduct” before being allowed to rejoin the team.
While speaking with reporters after the Celtics’ win over the Thunder on November 14, Brown called out Tsai.
“Tsai’s response was alarming to me.” Brown said. “He didn’t say that the organization was working together to get Kyrie back on the floor. He said that Kyrie had more work to do. And as vice president of the players union, it’s part of my job to protect our players legally. And to see Phil Knight first come out and condemn Kyrie, and also see Joe Tsai say he has more work to do, I think it’s time for a larger conversation.”
Prior to Sunday’s game, Irving offered his apologies to those affected by his actions in recent weeks.
“I don’t stand for anything close to hate speech, or antisemitism, or anything that is anti going against the human race,” Irving said. “I feel like we all should have an opportunity to speak for ourselves when things are assumed about us. And I feel it was necessary for me to stand in this place and take accountability for my actions because there was a way I should have handled all of this.”
NBA Hall of Famer Isiah Thomas also showed support for the demonstration, tweeting “Let it be known” before deleting the post sometime later.
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