Kyrie Irving’s return to basketball won’t end the controversy it started

Kyrie Irving’s return to basketball won’t end the controversy it started

NEW YORK – There were two microphones Sunday night and each told a story.

On a platform between Atlantic Avenue and Flatbush, between a subway station and an arena, was a man as he spoke to dozens of men in purple and yellow sweatshirts, as well as passers-by that night. fakeGrizzlies Play or just mind their own business. The voice from that microphone was incessant, quoting passages from the Bible, his people, the Holocaust in Germany, comparing it to what they had faced and commenting that it wasn’t so bad. He said they were true Jews, “You are not named.” If not him, the leader of the nearly 300-member group of Israelis United in Christ who camped outside Barclays Center for hours on Sunday, at least his voice. He spoke for hours on a blustery cold night while the rest brought out pamphlets proselytizing to their cause, The distorted truth of their anti-SemitismThat kind of group Flagged by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Inside the arena, a few hours later, Kyrie Irving He took to a microphone again, a routine but fraught event for the Net stars by now. The group that took up so much space and noise around Barclays, lined the streets, unequivocal and inevitable, not because of what they came for, but in response to it. Irving tweeted a link to the Amazon page for an anti-Semitic movie, Refused to apologize for it And show no remorse. Four days later, caught in the middle of a storm, he played at home, and this team also showed up. He didn’t play again until Sunday night, suspended by the Nets in the interim. Just as he returned from a 19-day absence from the Nets, so did they.

Of all the criticism that erupted against Irving after the tweet, the most shocking and unreal was that he was actually anti-Semitic or full of hate. It was that he shared a portion of the propaganda, giving oxygen to the kinds of tropes and lies that Jews had been exposed to for centuries, and refused to denounce it forcefully and swiftly, choosing instead elliptical restraint until he was finally suspended and Couldn’t ignore it. Criticism and Irving may have been about love and peace, as he insisted, but these were the consequences many feared. Reduction of suffering, death, horror that has destroyed the lives of many men and women and families for generations. Right there, at Atlantic Ave and Flatbush.

Video via Mike Vorkunov / The Athletic

By Sunday night, Irving apologized earlier. He did one in an Instagram post two weeks ago, but after the Net agency removed him. After speaking with Jewish leaders, back on the net, he did another one that afternoon. Irving still occasionally bristled, indicating that he felt misunderstood and mislabeled, but he was remorseful and meant no harm, he said.

Now, Irving just wanted to focus on the game, a 127-112 win over the Grizzlies in which he scored 14 points in 26 minutes played. He missed his teammates and his coaches, he said, and they welcomed him back with ease. Jake Vaughn, newly hired as head coach while Irving was away, said he laid out the ground rules to Irving in a chat that day.

“It’s about hooping, and I use that word right there that from this day forward, that’s what we’re going to be about,” Vonn said. “Basketball is realistic. You get rebounds, it’s a fact. You box out, it’s a fact. You shot, it’s a fact. We are going to make this thing real. It’s going to be about basketball and we’re going to live in that space.”

As if Irving’s slippage with information wasn’t a reason to metastasize the situation he and Nate found themselves in this month. It’s hard to say the net is back to normal yet. The scene inside Barclays’ press conference room on Sunday indicated just how erratic it was. As Irving spoke, Shetelia Riley Irving, her agent and stepmother, and NBPA Executive Director Tamika Tremaglio listened just a few feet away, as did other union officials.

When a reporter brought up the scene above, among the protesters who came out in support, Irving was embarrassed. That conversation will be for another day, he said. This press conference is about the game.

Just a few hours ago, Irving announced that he realized the voice he carries, the pedestal associated with 4.7 million Twitter followers and international fame, and now he hopes to use it.

“It’s a big moment for me, because I’ve learned throughout this process that the power of my voice is very powerful,” Irving said that afternoon. “The influence I have in my community is very strong, and I want to be responsible for that. To do that, you have to admit when you’re wrong where you hurt people and it affects them.”

But when another reporter asked if what he had done had resulted in the protesters coming out, he was once again discouraged.

“Again,” he said. “I’m just here to focus on the game.”

Mea Culpass’s time may be over, at least for Irving. Basketball questions will soon fill the void left behind by the chaos of the past few weeks. A quotidian trance would take after the disquiet of a disenfranchisement.

Irving missed eight games in the most unusual way, punished not for what he said, but what he refused to say despite opportunity after opportunity. He said he may still seek legal options to correct the eight games of lost pay, though there is no timetable for that process. NBPA leaderslike Union Vice President Jaylen Brownmay have Problem taken including his suspension and the terms of his return, but the NBPA will not file a complaint with the league against the Nets, Tremaglio said. athletic.

Israelis United in Christ protesters at Barclays Center in support of Kyrie Irving. (Mike Vorkunov / The Athletic)

Now, Irving has his voice back. Others have already heard it and see it as an opportunity to expand their own. It was hard not to hear it Sunday night in Brooklyn.

But he will use it on his own terms, he reminded everyone on Sunday night. Ultimately, he chooses when to make the most of the platform he’s built. Irving asked for atonement, he asked for forgiveness and clarity, and after nearly a month of controversy, he was asked when he would discuss what this microphone said in his name.

“I want to be on a platform where I can share openly without being harshly criticized or labeled or dealing with outside perceptions that I have nothing to do with,” she said. “Again, as I said this morning, I just want to elaborate on who is who, what AI is and what I represent in my tribe. That’s it.”

(Kyrie Irving photo: Nathaniel S. Butler / NBAE via Getty Images)

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