LeBron James weighed in on recent controversy surrounding a tweet his former teammate Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving posted linking to an antisemitic movie.
“I believe, you know, what Kyrie did caused some harm to a lot of people,” the Los Angeles Lakers forward said to reporters Friday night after a game against the Utah Jazz. “I don’t stand on the position to harm people when it comes to your voice or your platform.”
James also spoke about the recent decision to pull an episode of online talk show “The Shop” featuring Ye, formerly known as Kanye West, because he used “hate speech and extremely dangerous stereotypes” during the taping, according to the show’s producers.
“Because it was some hate conversation going on there and I don’t represent that,” he said. “Me, personally, I don’t condone any hate to any kind, to any race. To Jewish communities, to Black communities, to Asian communities. You guys know where I stand.”
Irving has been roundly criticized since last week, when he tweeted a link to the 2018 movie “Hebrews to Negroes: Wake Up Black America,” which is based on Ronald Dalton’s book of the same name.
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver called out Irving on Thursday for failing to offer an unqualified apology or denounce “the vile and harmful content contained in the film he chose to publicize.”
Since then, Irving was suspended without pay for at least five games after failing to say he has no antisemitic beliefs.
During a campaign stop in Pittsburgh on Saturday, former President Barack Obama also referenced the controversy without mentioning Irving or Kanye West by name.
“Whether it’s out of malice or ignorance we’ve seen big celebrities posting vile, antisemitic conspiracy theories online. You don’t have to be a student of history to understand how dangerous that is,” Obama said. “I don’t know when we decided that we were just going to believe everything we read on the Internet. If you read or see something online that has some grand theory that a particular group, whether it’s Black folk, white folks or Jews or Catholics or immigrants or gays, if it says they’re the cause of all your problems it’s safe to say it’s a lie. It’s garbage. It’s dangerous poison that we have to call out and end that kind of mindset.”
On Friday, Nike said it was suspending its relationship with Irving and will not release a new shoe named after him due to the controversial tweet he posted.
Nike said the suspension is effectively immediately and the company will no longer launch the Kyrie 8 shoe.
“At Nike, we believe there is no place for hate speech and we condemn any form of antisemitism,” Nike said in a statement. “We are deeply saddened and disappointed by the situation and its impact on everyone.”
Irving offered an apology in an Instagram post Thursday night.
He said the movie he posted “contained some false anti-Semitic statements, narratives, and language that were untrue and offensive.”
“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,” Irving wrote.
David K. Li, Phil Helsel and Chantal Da Silva contributed.