Lakers forward LeBron James on Friday addressed the suspension of Kyrie Irving, acknowledging his former teammate “caused some harm” with his recent actions regarding a film that included antisemitic messaging.
Irving was suspended by the Nets for a minimum of five games on Thursday, with the franchise deeming him “currently unfit to be associated” with the team. Irving later issued an apology via Instagram in which he expressed regret and said he was “deeply sorry” to have hurt members of the Jewish community. The apology was outlined as a step toward Irving satisfying “a series of objective remedial measures that address the harmful impact of his conduct,” a condition for reinstatement set by the Nets.
“I can tell you this, it’s simple. 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,” James told reporters following the Lakers’ loss to the Jazz on Friday night.
MORE: Nets suspend Kyrie Irving for ‘no less than’ five games without pay
James continued, adding, “I believe what Kyrie did caused some harm to a lot of people. And he has since, over the last — I think it was today, or yesterday — he apologized. But he caused some harm and I think it’s unfortunate.
“I don’t stand on the position to harm people when it comes to your voice or your platform or anything.”
James also referenced an episode of “The Shop” that featured Ye, formerly known as Kanye West. After taping the episode, James and fellow producer Maverick Carter decided to scrap it because of “hate speech” and “extremely dangerous stereotypes” that Ye used during the taping.
“That’s part of the reason why I didn’t air ‘The Shop’ episode, why we kicked that out of the archives,” James said. “Because it was hate conversation going on there. And I don’t represent that. There’s no place in this world for it. . . . If you are promoting or soliciting or saying harmful things to any community that harms people, then I don’t respect it. I don’t condone it.”
James is one of a handful of NBA players who have publicly addressed Irving’s situation. The two spent three years as teammates in Cleveland and are two of Nike’s signature athletes. That gave James a different type of perspective when he was asked what he felt Irving’s next steps should be to mend his relationships with the Nets and Nike, who have suspended ties with him and held off on the release of his upcoming sneaker.
“I don’t know,” James responded. “At the end of the day, Kyrie is his own man. He stands up in front of the media and speaks. He is a man and [from] a great family.
“I love the kid. He’s not even a kid no more. He’s 30. He just said that the other day in his presser. I was like, ‘That’s insane.’ I don’t know the direction — the steps that he takes, but he’s apologized for what he said and I hope that he understands that what he said was harmful to a lot of people. . . . I hope he understands what he did and the actions that he took are just harmful to a lot of people.”
Irving will not be eligible to return from his suspension until Nov. 13, when the Nets are in Los Angeles to face the Lakers. Beyond the minimum five games, it is unclear how long Irving will be sidelined.