Kyrie Irving 'deeply regretted' sharing anti-Semitic documentary, says Adam Silver

BOSTON – From NBA Commissioner Adam Silver’s perspective, Kyrie Irving’s return to the NBA Finals is a reason to celebrate.

It was less than two years ago that Silver presided over the firestorm Irving sparked by promoting an anti-Semitic documentary on social media. Irving was ultimately suspended for eight games by the Brooklyn Nets, his team at the time, in November 2022, while Silver – who is Jewish – called Irving's decision to share the documentary “reckless” and implored Irving to issue “an unconditional apology.”

Silver later played a key role in the mutually agreed process that led to Irving's return, which Irving apologize publicly and a total of six “action points” to complete.

Speaking to a small group of reporters at an NBA Cares event on Friday, less than 24 hours after Irving's Dallas Mavericks lost 107-89 to his old team, the Boston Celtics, in Game 1, Silver reflected on the eight-time All-Star's journey from those tumultuous times with the Nets to this modern experience that has been so much more positive. And when asked directly if he believes Irving has taken full responsibility for his actions back then, Silver expressed his strong support.

“Absolutely,” Silver said. “I think in our private conversations, which included Tamika Tremaglio (the former NBPA executive director) at the time, … he showed great remorse. He took responsibility. I think we all know he can be a little stubborn, and I think he felt strongly that he needed to say in his own words how he expressed himself in terms of an apology to the public.

“But there was no doubt in my mind – and I would not have said that at the time if I had not felt that he absolutely regretted his actions and was determined to do the right thing in the future and also understood how others might have perceived his comments.”

Less than two weeks after Irving's tweet that sparked everything, Silver told the New York Times he didn't believe Irving was anti-Semitic. Looking back, Silver said, that decision was born out of the trust he had had in their relationship up until that point.

The two first met during Irving's 2010-11 season at Duke, Silver said, and legendary coach Mike Krzyzewski introduced the two “Dukies.” Silver graduated from the university in 1984.

“I could basically vouch for him because I knew him,” Silver said. “I knew his character and thought it was important that — even though he admitted he made a mistake — his entire career and character wasn't overshadowed by one bad moment. I mean, he obviously paid a price for that misstep. But he did a lot (to make up for it).

“I'm not even going to go into detail because he chose not to disclose it. But he saw it as an opportunity for himself to better himself, to become more educated on these issues. And again, he didn't want this to be public, but I felt like he was working through these issues. But then the question was, 'What would he learn from this?' And I think it's great to see that he's refocused on the game of basketball, on his family, on being a good member of the community. And now I just enjoy watching him compete on the court.”

Required reading

(Photo: Maddie Meyer / Getty Images)