Nets guard Kyrie Irving doubled down on his support of an antisemitic documentary and a “New World Order” conspiracy theory about secret societies during a testy news conference Saturday night, a day after his team’s owner chastised him for supporting the film.
The conspiracy theory, pushed by the Infowars host Alex Jones, falsely suggests that people in the government are working to enslave the human population by, among other methods, releasing viruses.
“History is not supposed to be hidden from anybody,” Irving said as he defended himself for posting a link on Twitter to the 2018 documentary “Hebrews to Negroes: Wake Up Black America,” which espouses several antisemitic tropes.
“Did I do anything illegal?” Irving said. “Did I hurt anybody? Did I harm anybody? Am I going out and saying that I hate one specific group of people?”
Irving posted about the documentary on Twitter and Instagram in the past week, and the Nets owner Joe Tsai rebuked him in a statement Friday, saying that he was “disappointed.”
“I want to sit down and make sure he understands this is hurtful to all of us, and as a man of faith, it is wrong to promote hate based on race, ethnicity or religion,” Tsai said in a post on Twitter.
The Spread of Misinformation and Falsehoods
On Saturday afternoon, Irving said in a post on Twitter that he was an “omnist,” a person who supports all religions. “The ‘Anti-Semitic’ label that is being pushed on me is not justified and does not reflect the reality or truth I live in everyday,” he said.
At the news conference Saturday, after the Nets lost to the Indiana Pacers, Irving argued with a reporter who said he had “promoted” the documentary and reiterated that he was not antisemitic.
“I’m not a divisive person when it comes to religion,” Irving said. “I embrace all walks of life.”
As he was pressed about the potential consequences of sharing an antisemitic documentary to his millions of followers on social media, Irving gave seemingly contradictory answers about his impact.
“I’m in a unique position to have a level of influence on my community,” Irving said. “What I post does not mean that I support everything that’s being said.”
He later said: “There’s things being posted every day. I am no different than the next human being, so don’t treat me any different.”
Irving was also asked about his support of Jones, who was ordered this month to pay almost $1 billion in damages in a lawsuit about his false assertions that the 2012 Sandy Hook shooting that killed 26 people was a hoax. Irving said he did not back Jones’s claim that Sandy Hook was a hoax, but that Jones was right in a 2002 video about the New World Order theory that Irving shared on Instagram last month.
“It’s true,” Irving said, adding, “It’s actually hilarious because out of all the things I posted that day, that was the one post that everyone chose to see.”
In the video, Jones said: “The facts and common sense are in. Yes, there have been corrupt empires. Yes, they manipulate. Yes, there are secret societies. Yes, there have been oligarchies throughout history. And yes, today, in 2002, there is a tyrannical organization calling itself the ‘New World Order’ pushing for worldwide government.”
There has been public backlash for Irving’s support of Jones and the documentary, but on Saturday he stood firm.
“I’m not going to stand down on anything I believe in,” Irving said. “I’m only going to get stronger because I’m not alone. I have a whole army around me.”
After Irving accused an ESPN reporter of trying to “dehumanize” him and denied that he was promoting the documentary by posting about it, the Nets abruptly ended the news conference.
Irving, a seven-time All-Star, has become a lightning rod for criticism in recent years. He missed much of the 2021-22 season because he declined to get vaccinated against the coronavirus, and in 2018 he suggested that the Earth might be flat.
Neither the Nets, the N.B.A. nor a representative for Tsai responded to requests for comment.