Kyrie Irving could be on the verge of his return to the NBA court, but in the meantime, a labor organization has charged the Nets with violating federal law by suspending Irving.
Irving has missed eight consecutive games after being suspended for posting a tweet promoting a film deemed antisemitic that was called, “Hebrews To Negroes: Wake Up Black America.”
Over the weekend, The Labor Organizers filed a charge with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) against the team, alleging Irving’s suspension violated federal labor law and the league’s collective bargaining agreement (CBA).
“Under the (uniform player contract) and CBA a team can terminate … (an) employment contract by first following the waiver protocol,” the charge says. “The Brooklyn Nets indefinite suspension of the employee is a tactic to avoid compliance with the waiver protocol. If the employer followed the waiver protocol (Irving’s) contract with the Nets would officially end and (his) free agency period would begin.”
The NLRB is due to investigate the charge against the Nets.
In the meantime, Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving broke his silence Saturday regarding his team-issued suspension.
“I felt like I was protecting my character, and I reacted out of pure defense,” he told SNY’s Ian Begley. “I was just hurt that I could be labeled, or I thought that I was being labeled, as antisemitic or anti-Jewish. And I felt like that was just so disrespectful to ask me whether or not I was antisemitic or not.
“Now, to the outside world it may have been seen as a simple yes or no – which rightfully so, it should have been ‘No, I’m not antisemitic. No, I’m not anti-Jewish. I am a person that believes that we all should have equal opportunities and that we should all shower each other with love, and that should be at the forefront.’ But it wasn’t in that initial conversation, and I take my accountability, and I want to apologize for that because it came off the wrong way, completely.”
Irving is reportedly expected back in Brooklyn’s lineup Sunday against the Memphis Grizzlies.
The 30-year-old said Saturday that his claim of “How can I be antisemitic when I know where I come from?” was a reference to his upbringing.
“That statement itself was just referring back to my childhood and all the relatives and friends that I have made and that I will continue to get to know on a deeper level … some of them are Jewish, some of them are not Jewish, but I felt like that didn’t matter, and because I felt like it didn’t matter in that moment, it came off the wrong way.”
Following a rough start to the season, Brooklyn made strides in Irving’s absence, ultimately posting a 5-3 record without their prolific guard. That is a huge difference from the 2-6 record it posted over the first eight games with Irving in the lineup.
It doesn’t necessarily mean that the Nets are a better team without Irving, who is averaging 26.9 points, 5.1 rebounds and 5.1 assists this season.