New Orleans Pelicans defenseman CJ McCollum, who is president of the National Basketball Players Association, made his first public comment on Kyrie Irving on Saturday night following the team’s loss to the Atlanta Hawks.
“I think the important part was that he apologized,” McCollum said. “Now he has shown sympathy. I think it’s a learning experience where I don’t think he understood the scope of the movie because he didn’t watch it. I don’t think he understood the scope of the people who were affected, how they were affected and how quickly hatred can spread and how it can snowball.”
“It’s safe to say that we know that Kairi and all of us – me in particular, I can speak for myself – specifically condemn anti-Semitism in any form. I’m specifically against it. I especially believe in promoting equality, diversity, inclusiveness. “
McCollum said that Irving had not seen the film in question, From Jews to Negroes: Awaken Black America, which contained many anti-Semitic clichés. It is not clear if McCollum heard this from Irving in a private conversation or elsewhere. Regardless, it’s worth noting that this contradicts what Irving said during his October 29 press conference when he was first asked about posting a link to the film on Twitter.
Earlier this week, the Brooklyn Nets suspended Irving for at least five games for promoting the film and then initially refused to apologize. The team outlined six demands for Irving to return to the team, including an apology and condemnation of the film he was promoting, a meeting with Jewish leaders, and a meeting with team owner Joe Tsai to demonstrate his understanding of the situation.
Irving has since apologized on Instagram:
“I published a documentary containing several false anti-Semitic statements, narratives and expressions that are not true and insult the Jewish race/religion, and I take full responsibility for my actions,” Irving wrote. “I am grateful that I have a great knowledge sharing platform and I want to move forward with an open dialogue to learn more and grow from it.
“To all the Jewish families and communities that have been hurt and hurt by my fast, I deeply regret the pain I have caused you and I apologize.”
He has since served two games of the minimum five-match suspension and will be out until at least November 12. The first possible game he could play in is November 13 against the Los Angeles Lakers. However, it’s unclear where he ranks in other criteria set by the Nets.
McCollum said he hopes this situation can be a lesson for everyone and wants to make sure the league and players are ready to denounce hate and prejudice in any form.
“In this situation, it is important to know that you have a platform. You have to be careful how you use it,” he said. “You have to check everything you post. I think this is a situation that we can all use as a learning experience for all of us as players… You have to be careful what you post.
“You must know exactly what it is, and you must research and study all religions, all origins and all races, so that you can comfortably talk about it. I think it’s an unfortunate situation where many people have been affected. and many people have suffered from it. This was hard”.
“First of all, it is important to condemn anti-Semitism. I believe in social justice, not just for blacks, but for everyone. This is a matter of social justice. This is a social justice situation that continues to be addressed. moving in the direction of a proper solution.”