WASHINGTON — Brooklyn Nets star Kevin Durant said the fallout from Kyrie Irving’s social media posts that centered on an antisemitic book and movie is an “unfortunate situation” that “just sucks all around for everybody and hopefully we can move past it.”
Irving was suspended by the Nets on Thursday for “no less than five games” after he failed to formally apologize during a news conference earlier in the day for the hurt that his posts caused late last week. Irving later issued an apology over Instagram on Thursday night.
“I ain’t here to judge nobody or talk down on nobody for how they feel, their view or anything,” Durant said following the Friday shootaround. “I just didn’t like anything that went on. I feel like it was all unnecessary. I felt like we could have just kept playing basketball and kept quiet as an organization. I just don’t like none of it.”
Durant tweeted to clarify his comments, saying, “I don’t condone hate speech or antisemitism.”
Just wanna clarify the statements I made at shootaround, I see some people are confused..I don’t condone hate speech or anti-semetism, I’m about spreading love always. Our game Unites people and I wanna make sure that’s at the forefront
— Kevin Durant (@KDTrey5) November 4, 2022
General manager Sean Marks, who traveled with the team for the Friday game against the Washington Wizards, said the Nets never considered waiving Irving in the wake of this latest controversy.
“No,” Marks said. “Not at this point in time.”
Marks said that while the apology on Instagram was a good first step, Irving will need to take more steps, including “counseling designated by the team” as well as meeting with Jewish leaders within the Brooklyn community, before being able to play for the Nets again.
“I think after anything like this, you would always hope that there’s a change,” Marks said. “There’s a change in feelings, a change in attitude, I think, per his apology, that’s a step in the right direction. But as we’ve sort of stated, actions speak louder than words. And so he’s had some time and there will be more time to reflect on that.
“… He’s going to have to sit down [with Jewish leaders]. He’s going to have to sit down with the organization after this. And we’ll evaluate and see if this is the right opportunity to bring him back.”
When asked if he agreed with the team’s decision to suspend Irving, Durant said, “I believe and trust in the organization to do what’s right.”
As a longtime superstar in the league, Durant understands and has discussed the around-the-clock coverage that the NBA and its players receive.
“It’s just the way of the NBA now,” Durant said. “Media, there’s so many outlets now and stories hit pretty fast now. That’s where all the chaos is coming from. Everybody’s opinion, and everybody has an opinion on this situation, and we’re hearing it nonstop.
“But once the balls start bouncing and we get into practice, none of that stuff seeps into the gym, so that’s the cool part about being in the gym. But once you step off the court, everybody’s got the microphones out, microscopes, looking at you, asking you what you feel about it. So that’s been difficult, but the game is a constant for us.”