Kyrie Irving scored 14 points and grabbed five rebounds to lead the Nets to a 127-115 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies in the All-Star point guard’s returned from an eight-game suspension after promoting a documentary allegedly filled with propaganda and anti-Semitic information.
Irving provided a much-needed jolt for the Nets who are struggling to reach the .500 mark (8-9). But that wasn’t the big story on Sunday in Brooklyn. Despite Irving offering several apologies to the Jewish people he may have offended and admitting to his poor choice of action; he’s still drawing support from a certain organization.
Hours before Sunday’s Nets home game against the Memphis Grizzlies, a group of Black Hebrew Israelites surrounded the Barclays Center in support of Nets star Kyrie Irving. The contingent of at least 100, under the name Israel United in Christ, handed out their own propaganda before the game.
Kyrie Irving has a lot of support outside of Barclays Center today
— NBACentral (@TheNBACentral) November 20, 2022
— Sopan Deb (@SopanDeb) November 20, 2022
Irving was able to make his return after he completed a set of conditions by the Nets. Among them, making an apology to the Jewish community and speaking with local Jewish leaders.
“I just want to offer my deep apologies to all those who are impacted over these last few weeks, specifically my Jewish relatives, my black relatives, all races and cultures,” Irving said. “I feel like we all felt the impact. And I don’t stand for anything close to hate speech, or anti-Semitism or anything that is anti- going against the human race.
“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. I meant no harm to any person, any group of people.”
The film that Irving promoted “Hebrews to Negroes: Wake up Black America” asserts that Jewish people are lying about the Holocaust, lying about their identity and engaged in a secret “plan for world domination.” Black Hebrew Israelites believe they are the true chosen people of God. That they are in fact Semitic and thus cannot be anti-Semitic.
The extreme sect Black Hebrew Israelites believe anti-Semitic conspiracy theories and are categorized as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center:
Radical Hebrew Israelites appropriate biblical Jewish heritage to claim an exclusive identity as the true chosen people of God and decry Jews as the impostors and thieves. These groups seek a divine form of dominance rather than equity, by declaring superiority over all other “nations” (biblical term for other races and ethnicity) and strict adherence to biblical literalism to legitimize their ideology. They spread their beliefs through street preaching, often verbally harassing, provoking and shaming any non-Israelite and those of their own community who don’t follow their beliefs. This can be harmful LGBTQ people of color within their communities, especially black lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender individuals. Radical Hebrew Israelites have a definite abhorrence of relationships between “Israelites” and Caucasian people as they relate them to the devil. Not only does this ideology further marginalize members of their communities, but it also parallels toxic power structures that are common on the far right.
Boston Celtics guard Jaylen Brown, a vice president with the National Basketball Players Association initially tweeted support of the group outside of Barclays. He recanted later saying he thought it was the fraternity Omega Psi Phi coming out in support of Irving.
— Jaylen Brown (@FCHWPO) November 20, 2022
I was not aware of what specific group that was outside of Barclay’s Center tonight. I was celebrating the unification of our people welcoming the return of Kyrie to the court, first glance I thought it was a known fraternity the (C/Que’s) Omega psi phi (step’n) showing support
— Jaylen Brown (@FCHWPO) November 21, 2022
So much going on here. We’ll see how long the focus remains on basketball with Irving and company.