Suspended Brooklyn Nets point guard Kyrie Irving is reportedly "nearing completion on the process necessary for a return" to the team and could be active for Sunday's (November 20) game against the Memphis Grizzlies, sources with knowledge of the situation told ESPN Senior NBA Insider Adrian Wojnarowski on Wednesday (November 16).
Irving has missed eight consecutive games since being suspended on November 3 in relation to what the team referred to as his refusal "to unequivocally say he has no antisemitic beliefs, nor acknowledge specific hateful material in the film" he shared a link to on his Instagram account.
"Kyrie is continuing his journey of dialogue and education," NBA Executive Director Tamika Tremaglio told ESPN Wednesday night. "He has been grappling with the full weight of the impact of his voice and actions, particularly in the Jewish community. Kyrie rejects antisemitism in any form, and he's dedicated to bettering himself and increasing his level of understanding. He plans to continue this journey well into the future to ensure that his words and actions align with his pursuit of truth and knowledge."
Last week, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, who is Jewish, said he had "no doubt" that Irving is not antisemitic following their "direct and candid conversation" at the league's headquarters in New York.
"He's someone I've known for a decade, and I've never heard an antisemitic word from him or, frankly, hate directed at any group," Silver said via the New York Times, adding, "Whether or not he is antisemitic is not relevant to the damage caused by the posting of hateful content."
Silver also acknowledged criticism of the league and the Nets not disciplining Irving sooner "may be fair."
On November 3, the Nets issued a statement via NBA.com announcing that Irving would be suspended for at least five games without pay after the franchise and Silver had publicly sought for the point guard to issue an apology for posting a link to an antisemitic film.
"I feel that we got to the right outcome here in terms of his suspension," Silver told the Times. "And in retrospect, we may have been able to get there faster. I accept that criticism. But I felt it was important to understand the context in which it was posted to understand what discipline was appropriate, not in any way to excuse it but to understand what discipline was appropriate."
On November 4, Nike announced that it had "suspended" its relationship with Irving and canceled the upcoming release of his latest signature shoe, which co-founder Phil Knight later said would likely be permanent.
"I would doubt that we go back," Knight said in an interview with CNBC that aired Thursday (November 10) via ESPN. "But I don't know for sure."
Irving issued an apology to the Jewish community hours after his suspension in relation to what the team referred to as his refusal "to unequivocally say he has no antisemitic beliefs, nor acknowledge specific hateful material in the film."
"While doing research on YHWH, I posted a Documentary that contained some false anti-Semitic statements, narratives, and language that were untrue and offensive to the Jewish Race/Religion, and I take full accountability and responsibly for my actions. I am grateful to have a big platform to share knowledge and I want to move forward by having an open dialogue to learn more and grow from this," Irving wrote on his verified Instagram account.
"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. I initially reacted out of emotion to being unjustly labeled Anti-Semitic, instead of focusing on the healing process of my Jewish Brothers and Sisters that were hurt from the hateful remarks made in the Documentary. I want to clarify any confusion on where I stand fighting against Anti- semticism by apologizing for posting the documentary without context and a factual explanation outlining the specific beliefs in the Documentary I agreed with and disagreed with. I had no intentions to disrespect any Jewish cultural history regarding the Holocaust or perpetuate any hate. I am learning from this unfortunate event and hope we can find understanding between us all. I am no different than any other human being. I am a seeker of truth and knowledge, and I know who I Am."
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