Good news: Kyrie Irving is not anti-Semitic.
So say two leading authorities on the subject, the commissioner of the NBA and the owner of the Brooklyn Nets.
Bad News: Kyrie Irving is still a pain in the neck.
The suspended point guard met separately late last week with NBA Commissioner Adam Silver and Brooklyn Nets owner Joe Tsai, weeks after tweeting a link to a controversial documentary laced with anti-Semitic themes.
Silver and Tsai, as it turns out, reached the same conclusion as Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, who posted an hourlong rant on the issue — that Irving is not a purveyor of hate toward Jews.
“He’s someone I’ve known for a decade, and I’ve never heard an anti-Semitic word from him or, frankly, hate directed at any group,” Silver, who is Jewish, told The New York Times.
“Whether or not he is anti-Semitic is not relevant to the damage caused by the posting of hateful content.”
Tsai, whose wife and co-owner Clara Wu Tsai sat in on the meeting, agreed.
“Clara and I met with Kyrie and his family yesterday,” Tsai tweeted Friday. “We spent quality time to understand each other and it’s clear to me that Kyrie does not have any beliefs of hate towards Jewish people or any group. The Nets and Kyrie, together with the NBA and NBPA, are working constructively toward a process of forgiveness.”
Tsai is the one who signed off on an emasculating list of conditions under which Irving can return to the team:
1. Issue an apology for posting the movie, condemn its content and make clear he has no anti-Jewish beliefs.
2. Complete the anti-hate programs that Irving, the Nets and the Anti-Defamation League agreed upon, plus donate $500,000 to causes and organizations that work to eradicate hate and intolerance in communities.
3. Complete sensitivity training created by the Nets.
4. Complete anti-Semitic/anti-hate training created by the Nets.
5. Meet with representatives of the Anti-Defamation League and Jewish community leaders in Brooklyn.
6. Meet with Nets owner Joe Tsai and other franchise officials to prove he understands how harmful his actions were, while also assuring he won’t repeat this kind of behavior.
But why stop there? Why not have Irving rake the leaves outside Tsai’s Central Park penthouse in the order they fell from the trees, or sink a shot from half court blindfolded?
Irving’s actions were inexcusable, and he deserved to be reprimanded and punished.
But for a guy who excels at hoops, the Nets have placed way too many for him to jump through.
Instead of using this as a teaching moment, the team has seemed more intent on publicly humiliating Irving than helping him learn from his mistakes.
It is possible that Irving will never wear a Nets uniform again, and that could be what the team prefers.
And if that’s the case, they should just cut him or trade him. Why the song and dance?
The chances of him completing the checklist, to the team’s satisfaction, are about as good as his chances of getting a COVID booster.
If team executives were so outraged by Irving’s actions, they would not have waited so long to condemn them.
Then they compounded the image imbroglio by publicly lusting after suspended scandal-scarred coach Ime Udoka, who was sidelined by the Boston Celtics six weeks ago for reportedly having an improper intimate relationship with a female subordinate within the organization.
The Nets backed off, naming interim coach Jacque Vaughn as the permanent replacement for fired coach Steve Nash.
One controversy at a time is enough.
Irving has served his time. The Nets need to let him play. Anybody who can put Silver and Tsai on the same page with Farrakhan deserves another chance.