Kyrie Irving apologized Sunday morning to anyone who felt threatened or hurt when he posted a link to a documentary with antisemitic material, clearing the way to finally play again for the Brooklyn Nets, the AP reports. Once he did, Irving tried to keep the focus on basketball. Deeper conversations, such as about the demonstrators outside the arena or a possible appeal of his suspension without pay, would be left for another day. “I’m just here to focus on the game,” Irving said after scoring 14 points in helping the Nets to a 127-115 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies.
Irving had missed eight games since he was suspended by the team on Nov. 3, hours after he refused to say he had no antisemitic beliefs when meeting with reporters at the Nets’ practice facility. Back at the building for the team's morning shootaround, Irving said he should have handled that interview differently. “I don’t stand for anything close to hate speech or antisemitism or anything that is 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 this and as I look back and reflect when I had the opportunity to offer my deep regrets to anyone that felt threatened or felt hurt by what I posted, that wasn’t my intent at all.”
Fans arriving at Barclays Center for the game found the plaza area filled by dozens of members of the group Israel United in Christ, Black men chanting and handing out paraphernalia that contained antisemitic material. The organization's website says its mission is to “wake up the 12 Tribes of Israel.” Asked about having that group's support, Irving said he hadn't seen them, adding that it was “a conversation for another day.” As for whether action against the Nets was coming—members of the National Basketball Players Association, including executive director Tamika Tremaglio, were at the shootaround and the game—Irving said others would be handling that for him. “I’m sure some things will be done in the future,” Irving said. “There’s no timetable on that right now.” (Click for more of Irving's comments, as well as the Nets' response.)