Nov 10, 2022 - Sports

LeBron James: Kyrie Irving "should be playing" after apologizing for antisemitic film post

Kyrie Irving #11 of the Brooklyn Nets and LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers hi-five after a game on January 23, 2020.

Kyrie Irving and LeBron James hi-five after a game in 2020. Photo: Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images

LeBron James said Thursday that Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving's recent apology and condemnation of an antisemitic film warrants him a return to the NBA hardwood.

Why it matters: James is arguably the biggest star in the league and the most notable NBA player to support Irving's return to the NBA amid the controversy surrounding Irving's promotion of an antisemitic film.

Driving the news: "I told you guys that I don’t believe in sharing hurtful information. And I’ll continue to be that way but Kyrie apologized and he should be able to play," James tweeted. "That’s what I think. It’s that simple."

  • James said Irving is "not the person that’s being portrayed of him" and that Brooklyn's list of requirements for Irving's return to the court "is excessive."
LeBron James tweets about Kyrie Irving. Photo: Screenshot, @KingJames
LeBron James tweets about Kyrie Irving. Photo: Screenshot of @KingJames
LeBron James tweets about Kyrie Irving. Photo: Screenshot, @KingJames
James' tweet is continued. Photo: Screenshot of @KingJames

Catch up fast: The Brooklyn Nets suspended Irving without pay for at least five games after he failed to make an apology over sharing a link to a movie that contained antisemitic material, Axios reported.

  • The Nets had multiple asks of Irving in order for him to return the court, including apologizing and condemning the film, donating $500,000 to anti-hate causes, completing sensitivity and antisemitism training, meeting with the Anti-Defamation League and Jewish leaders, and speaking with Nets owner Joe Tsai to show his understanding of the situation, per NBA reporter Shams Charania.

Irving issued an apology in an Instagram post shortly after he was suspended, saying the film had false, antisemitic language.

  • "To All Jewish families and Communities that are hurt and affected from my post, I am deeply sorry to have caused you pain, and I apologize," he said.

Worth noting: When the NBA suspended Phoenix Suns owner Robert Sarver over workplace misconduct, James denounced him despite Sarver issuing a lengthy apology.

  • "This ain't right," James tweeted. "There is no place for misogyny, sexism, and racism in any work place. Don’t matter if you own the team or play for the team."

Go deeper: Irving's Nike deal suspended, shoe launch canceled amid controversy

Go deeper