The Dallas chapter of the Anti-Defamation League said it is “hopeful” the arrival of Kyrie Irving will be a positive development for the city — and that it takes the NBA superstar at his word that he is sorry for sharing a link to a film that espouses antisemitic views and conspiracy theories.
“The Dallas Mavericks have been exceptional allies in the fight against antisemitism and hate in all forms so we are hopeful that Kyrie’s arrival in Dallas will be a positive one, both on and off the court,” the Jewish civil rights organization said in a prepared statement Monday, a day after it was reported that the Mavericks and owner Mark Cuban, who is Jewish, were trading for Irving.
The trade came months after the NBA champion and eight-time all-star tweeted a link to a film containing Black Hebrew Israelite ideology. At the most basic level, Black Hebrew Israelites believe modern African Americans are descended from the Biblical Israelites from the Old Testament of the Bible.
That position leaves open the question of where white Jews are descended from, and some variations of Black Hebrew Israelite ideology take the answer to more extreme and antisemitic places than others.
The film Irving tweeted about came “pretty close to the most extremist variations of that movement,” Bennett Clifford, a senior research fellow at George Washington University’s Program on Extremism, told The Dallas Morning News on Monday.
The three-hour film, released in 2018, falsely claimed the murder of more than 6 million Jews by Nazis during the Holocaust didn’t happen. It also claimed Jews were responsible for the transatlantic slave trade and called white Jews imposters.
“It played a comparison game with the Holocaust and transatlantic slave trade that sought to minimize the former in exchange for the latter,” Clifford said. “The sign that this sort of movie made it to a figure like Kyrie Irving is indicative of how mainstream the movement has become in the last 10 years.”
Irving deleted the tweet, but initially refused to apologize for sharing it, prompting the Brooklyn Nets to suspend him for eight games. After he was suspended, Irving issued a statement on Instagram apologizing to “all Jewish families” and called the false claims made in the film “hurtful.”
“As we said previously, we take Kyrie at his word that he is truly sorry for his past actions and that he’s willing to put in the work to educate himself, engage in constructive dialogue, and use his platform for good,” the ADL said. “We wish Kyrie and the Mavs the best of luck the rest of the way.”
While one of the nation’s top Jewish civil-rights group appears posed to give Irving a second chance, some fans are more hesitant. In the nearly 20 years since he’s moved to Dallas, Brandon Friedman has been a loyal fan of the hometown NBA team through its highest highs and lowest lows.
But Friedman said he is considering canceling the Bally Sports subscription that allows him to watch most Mavericks games in light of the Irving trade.
“It’s just kind of a bummer,” said Friedman, a Dallas business owner and nonpracticing Jew. “Sports are supposed to be fun. I feel like this guy is so toxic that he takes a lot of the fun out of it. It would be very, very hard for me to root for a Dallas Mavs team with this guy on it.”
He said he’s not in a position to judge whether Irving has earned a second chance, but he believes Irving would poorly represent the city of Dallas.
“It’s deflating to see you have a toxic player like this, and when you bring him into Dallas, it just feels gross,” Friedman said. “I don’t think he’s the best example for my 10-year-old who watches the games.”