As speculation grows that Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving could be on the verge of his return to the NBA court, a labor organization has charged the Nets with violating federal law by suspending Irving.
Irving has missed eight consecutive games after being suspended for allegedly promoting content many deemed antisemitic by posting a line to the film “Hebrews To Negroes: Wake Up Black America” on his social media platforms.
An independent activist group called The Labor Organizers has filed a charge with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) against the team, alleging Irving’s suspension violated federal labor law and the league’s collective bargaining agreement (CBA).
“Under the (uniform player contract) and CBA a team can terminate … (an) employment contract by first following the waiver protocol,” the charge says. “The Brooklyn Nets indefinite suspension of the employee is a tactic to avoid compliance with the waiver protocol. If the employer followed the waiver protocol (Irving’s) contract with the Nets would officially end and (his) free agency period would begin.”
The NLRB is due to investigate the charge against the Nets.
Irving received what many deem a harsh set of conditions to fulfill by the Nets before he could return to play. Among them was meeting with Jewish leaders.
Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, told the New York Times he has yet to meet with Irving but did meet with the Nets guard’s parents. He said he doesn’t know if Irving has met with any other Jewish leaders.
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“I want to be clear I have not spoken to Kyrie directly. Spoke to members of his family, I’ve spoken to his friends, spoken to the NBA front office. I’ve spoken to the Nets’ management, I’ve spoken to the players’ association. So a lot of different stakeholders, if you will,” Greenblatt said.
Greenblatt added he “would be willing to sit down with Kyrie this afternoon or at any point in time.”
Recently, more NBA executives and current and former players have come to Irving’s defense, stating he is not antisemitic.
Though he previously said Irving still had work to do, Nets owner Joe Tsai was among the chorus of voices.
“Clara and I met with Kyrie and his family yesterday. We spent quality time to understand each other and it’s clear to me that Kyrie does not have any beliefs of hate towards Jewish people or any group,” Tsai tweeted on Nov. 11.
Irving, who has said he couldn’t be antisemitic because he knows who he is, hasn’t commented on his possible return. His latest tweet was a quote from legendary poet Dr. Maya Angelou on Thursday, Nov. 17.
“’Stand up straight and realize who you are, that you tower over your circumstances. You are a child of God. Stand up straight.’” #MayaAngelou” Irving wrote.
PHOTO: Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving (11) dribbles against the Chicago Bulls during the second half of an NBA basketball game Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2022, in New York. (AP Photo/Jessie Alcheh)