National Basketball Players Association vice president Jaylen Brown called the nature of the eight-game suspension the Nets gave Kyrie Irving in November “unfair” and said it violated the NBA’s collective bargaining agreement.
“That’s my job as vice president of the union,” Brown said in an interview with The Ringer’s Logan Murdock. “The union is supposed to be an entity to protect the players, especially their rights and their freedom of expression. I feel like what the Brooklyn Nets did, I still feel the same way, was inappropriate. I think it was almost like a public ransom note, in a sense, where he had a list of demands that he had to make to get back in the game. It was a violation of our CBA. It’s a violation of our agreement and it was brushed off like nothing.”
The Nets suspended Irving a total of eight games for “failing to deny anti-Semitism” after the star guard posted a link to a movie widely considered anti-Semitic on his Instagram and Twitter accounts in late October. The suspension came after Irving chose not to offer an apology for publishing the film on two separate occasions, notably explaining “I can’t be anti-Semitic if I know where I came from” when pressed by journalists.
However, shortly after the suspension, both The Athletic and ESPN reported that Irving had to satisfy six benchmarks to return to the court after the organization deemed the star guard “unfit to associate with the Brooklyn Nets.” .
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Those landmarks included a public apology, a $500,000 donation to anti-hate causes, sensitivity, and anti-Semitic/anti-hate training, a meeting with the Anti-Defamation League and Jewish leaders in Brooklyn, and a meeting with the owner of the Nets. , Joe Tsai.
Brown said that he disagrees with the content of the film that Irving shared. The two have histories dating back to their time as teammates on the Celtics after Irving requested a trade from the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2017.
“Kyrie is one of those people who isn’t afraid of being wrong,” Brown said. “He is not afraid of being embarrassed. He, too, is not afraid of big moments, of doing big things. He is one of those people who is special. We see him on top of the world and we also see him make some mistakes. But I appreciate the fact that the fear factor for him, even though he might have been afraid, didn’t stop him from doing or saying what he felt was right, what he felt he needed to do. And that doesn’t exist in 99 percent of people. So people can say what they want about Kyrie Irving, but he’s definitely my friend.”
Irving told The Ringer Brown was one of the few people who stood by him when he was suspended for conduct detrimental to the team.
“He was one of the main ones who really stood by me and was 10 toes with me and just said to me, ‘You know, everything is going to be okay. There’s peace of mind at the end of the road, but I want you to know that you’re not alone in this,’” Irving said.
Irving is no longer with the Nets after forcing a trade to the Dallas Mavericks two days before the NBA’s trade deadline, a move that shocked the organization and slammed the championship window, forcing the team to trade Kevin Durant to the Phoenix Suns shortly thereafter. .
It’s unclear if the NBPA plans to take any action after Irving’s suspension and his departure from Brooklyn, but one thing is for sure: Brown isn’t done talking about it.