Did the Nets Get Rid of the Wrong Person?

Did the Nets Get Rid of the Wrong Person?

“Let’s acknowledge that Kyrie is a basketball player, not a scholar, a subject matter expert on these issues,” Jonathan Greenblatt, the chief executive and national director of the Anti-Defamation League, said when we spoke Tuesday. “On the other hand, he’s a role model, one of the most beloved players in the league, let alone in Brooklyn. And I say that because when he tweets, it says something, and it sends signals, and people listen to him.”

All of this feeds into a grim reality for American Jews. Fueled by antisemitism from several quarters, acts of violence against Jews and Jewish institutions reached the highest level seen in the nearly 45 years the A.D.L. has been tracking such hate crimes, according to Greenblatt.

The sad paradox is that Irving plays for a team based in Brooklyn, where “we have seen a surge of antisemitism in recent years,” Greenblatt said. “Jewish people are getting harassed, Jewish homes and synagogues are getting vandalized. People are getting assaulted. What Kyrie did, considering the team he plays on, that’s why I think it struck such a nerve for so many people.”

With fame comes responsibility. Part of that is the responsibility to gain critical understanding before using the power of your voice. Irving and others did that in 2020, ushering in a new age of empowerment, and athletes felt encouraged to speak up against authority. But he failed miserably with his recent posts.

Should we hold out hope that he can redeem himself?

Remarkably, Greenblatt believes he can. If, that is, Irving “will take the time to engage kind of in a process of learning and healing, working to better understand.”

“I think all of us would be well served by this.”

Greenblatt is ready for the call. Is Irving?

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