Rev. Al Sharpton suggests Nets’ punishment of Kyrie Irving is justified: ‘Bigotry should not be normalized’

 

Rev. Al Sharpton says backlash Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving is getting for posting a link to an Amazon film with antisemitic disinformation is warranted.

The Nets laid out a six-step program for Irving to accomplish before they will think about allowing him to rejoin the team. And while some believe Brooklyn is going overboard — Nick Cannon even compared the “dehumanizing” situation to “buck breaking” — Sharpton thinks any hate is wrong.

“I think that we need to really be careful,” Sharpton told TMZ Wednesday. “That those of us who have fought racism in the Black community, that we cannot in any way, even inadvertently, normalize being bigots against others. I’ve not said anything other than we’ve got to be consistent. If people say things wrong, they need to be held in the same account that we hold when people say things wrong about us.

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Rev. Al Sharpton arrives to the Philadelphia screening of “Loudmouth” during the 31st Philadelphia Film Festival Oct. 29, 2022, in Philadelphia.
(Gilbert Carrasquillo/GC Images)

“We fight against bigotry of all forms. Bigotry should not be normalized, and victims cannot say that they’re going to victimize others.”

The civil rights leader wouldn’t speak on whether Irving will be back with the Nets, noting that he needs to see how things play out before choosing a side in that regard.

Brooklyn’s suspension of Irving came after he was unapologetic during a press conference that gave him ample opportunity to apologize. Irving later posted to his Instagram a lengthy apology, saying “I take full accountability and (responsibility) for my actions.”

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“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,” Irving wrote.

The Nets thought the apology was progress but not enough, which brought about the six-step program, which The Athletic laid out:

The Brooklyn Nets’ Kyrie Irving speaks before a game against the New Orleans Pelicans Oct. 19, 2022, in New York.
(AP Photo/Frank Franklin II, File)

Issue an apology for posting a link to the movie on Oct. 27, condemn the harmful and false content and make clear that he does not have anti-Jewish beliefs.Complete the anti-hate causes that Irving, the Nets and the Anti-Defamation League agreed upon in their joint release on Nov. 2, including a $500,000 donation toward causes and organizations that work to eradicate hate and intolerance in communities.Complete sensitivity training created by the Nets.Complete antisemitic/anti-hate training designed by the Nets.Meet with representatives from the Anti-Defamation League and Jewish community leaders in Brooklyn.After completing 1 through 5, meet with owner Joe Tsai and lead franchise officials and demonstrate the lessons learned and that the gravity of the harm caused in the situation is understood and provide assurances that this type of behavior will not be repeated.

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Irving also met with NBA commissioner Adam Silver on Tuesday in a “productive and understanding visit, paving the way for the Nets and their suspended star to work through his steps on a potential path forward,” The Athletic reported.

Rev. Al Sharpton delivers a sermon during Sunday Chapel at Howard University’s Cramton Auditorium Oct. 9, 2022, in Washington, D.C.
(Brian Stukes/Getty Images)

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“We’re going to give him some time,” GM Sean Marks said Friday. “It’s up to him. Again, his actions will speak louder than words, and if he wants to participate in that, we’ll see where it goes.”