KAI: Misinformed Superstar

Since he was a high school student, Kyrie Irving’s name has been in the media. Coverage was mostly positive early on in his college career at Duke and early in the NBA, but in 2017 everything took a turn after his flat Earth theory. Now, with a slew of other incidents over the last five years, Irving is beingΒ punished most recently for posting an antisemitic link. Due to his “promo” of the film “Hebrews to Negroes,” he has been ridiculed and denounced by the media as an “unapologetic antisemite.” Shortly after the post, Kyrie said he wasn’t necessarily promoting the film–which shows his lack of thought, but not necessarily his antisemitism.Β This has caused uproar within the Jewish community due to the movie’s use of antisemitic tropes and misinformation. Kyrie isn’t correct, don’t get it twisted, but I believe he was misinformed as to the truth of the video, and to a certain extent, he didn’t realize the harm his post could do.

Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving (11) wears sneakers with logos covered in tape with the words “I AM FREE Thank you God … I AM” written in gold colored marker during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Charlotte Hornets, Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2022, in New York. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

β€œHebrews to Negroes” is a controversial film where the intent of the film was to tell everyone that Black people were the “true” jewish people and the “white man” stole their religion and made it theirs, which caused an absolute uproar amongst the Jewish community, as it bashed Jewish people–white jews in particular, by deeming them concealed satanists. Utterly disgusting bigotry was represented within the film, and yes, when first given the chance to apologize and condemn the content of the movie, Kyrie doubled-down and discussed his right to free speech.Β However, that doesn’t necessarily mean there doesn’t have to be limits to the punishment handed to Kyrie, especially considering the public criticism he’s taken and will continue to take for his rash posting.Β 

Many take it as coming to Kyrie’s defense when arguing that the punishment is too severe–even if they disagree wholeheartedly with the content he posted.

His suspension included:

  • Apology/condemnation of the movie
  • $500k donation to anti-hate causes
  • Sensitivity training
  • Antisemitic training 
  • Meet with ADL, Jewish leaders
  • Meet with Joe Tsai (Nets Owner) to demonstrate understanding 
  • Meet with NBA Commissioner Adam Silver

Kyrie has now lost his Nike deal, as well as other sponsorships he’s spent years fostering.Β The CEO of Nike, Phill Knight was quoted saying, “I would doubt that we go back. But I don’t know for sure.” These losses are monetary and personal–his character will be scrutinized forever.

However, it’s important to put the situation into context, especially related to the offenses of other high profile athletes and artists.Β Despite all of the backlash, many have come to Irving’s defense, risking their careers to stand with him. This includes names like Jay Williams (ESPN Analyst/Former NBA Player), Reggie Miller, and Shannon Sharpe. Kyrie has been singled out and excessively punished in this situation. Despite his apology, Kyrie has lost so much, when it’s athletes like Brett Farve who have kept their sponsorships while hurting people directly, in his case by stealing out of a welfare funding organization to help fund a volleyball stadium. Favre’s legacy has not been tarnished in the same way, yet his actions were sinister. Same with Jeff Bezos and Andy Jassy;Β Why haven’t they been ridiculed? Bezos and Jassy haven’t been receiving any backlash for allowing this film on the Amazon platform “Prime Video.” In fact, they said the video would continue to remain on the platform.Β 

All targets are focused on Kyrie. All the hatred has been pinned on Kyrie, yet no one seems to get on the ones who are also at fault. Kyrie has done so much good in his community yet he draws so much attention negatively that his good deeds go unnoticed… As a person, Kyrie’s philanthropy for his community is in a shadow because of recents events.Β 

List of his organizations and donations he has created/made:

  • $323K to Feeding America
  • $1.5 million Empowerment Initiative to the WNBA
  • Another 323K for NYC Covid Reliefs
  • 17 pallets of food and 50,000 medical mask for his tribe “Standing Rock Sioux”
  • The KAI Family Foundation
  • MOBB United (Moms of Black Boys)
  • Pledged 500K to “causes and organizations that work to eradicate hate”

Plus many more… 

Yes money, power, and connections play a role in this. But I truly want to understand why everyone isn’t being held accountable. Jeff Bezos shouldn’t be excluded because of who he is. Jeff allowing this upon his platform makes him just as anti-semitic as Kyrie because not only is he promoting the video, but he’s profiting off of it as well.Β 

After Kyrie was officially suspended, he owned up to his mistake and openly took his punishment on the chin. He seems truly struck and apologetic towards his actions as he came to the realization that he did hurt a lot of people and he learned that freedom of speechβ‰  freedom of consequences. Though the link was promoted, he never truly commented upon it such as saying like the documentary is the “truth” or going on further.

Though the hate died down since his return to the court, the discussion upon the situation is absurd, controversy left and right.Β Kyrie Irving was caught at a time where anti-semitism has been at all-time high as of recently some may say it was just a timing thing, others may say he’s showing his true colors.Β 

In all Kyrie is a misinformed and misunderstood Superstar…

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