Durant: Nets ‘could have kept quiet’ about Irving, tumult

WASHINGTON (AP) — Kevin Durant said Friday the Brooklyn Nets could have handled this tumultuous week a bit differently — a week in which his coach was fired and teammate Kyrie Irving was suspended for posting a link to an antisemitic work.

Then Durant clarified on Twitter that he doesn’t condone hate speech and “is about spreading love always.”

Durant spoke Friday at the Nets’ shootaround in Washington ahead of the evening’s game against the Wizards. When asked what he thought of Irving’s recent conduct, which landed the guard a suspension of at least five games, Durant said: “I ain’t here to judge nobody or talk down on nobody for how they feel, their views or anything. I just didn’t like anything that went on.

“I felt like it was all unnecessary. I felt like we could have just kept playing basketball and kept quiet as an organization.”

Within an hour, Durant followed up via a tweet.

“Just wanna clarify the statements I made at shootaround, I see some people are confused,” he said. “I don’t condone hate speech or anti-semetism (sic), I’m about spreading love always. Our game Unites people and I wanna make sure that’s at the forefront.”

Irving did apologize in an Instagram post for not explaining the specific beliefs he agreed and disagreed with when he posted about the documentary.

Nets general manager Sean Marks said Friday that the team has had some dialogue with Irving, but not enough given the circumstances.

“The organization has made multiple attempts to get with Kyrie and his representation and to have them clarify his feelings and put out a sense of remorse for this, and that obviously didn’t happen, and he refused to disavow that until his tweet last night,” Marks said.

Marks said Irving’s apology was a step, but actions will speak louder than words. He also said the team is not considering releasing Irving at this time.

“There is going to be some remedial steps and measures that have been put in place for him to obviously seek some counseling … from dealing with some anti-hate and some Jewish leaders within our community,” Marks said. “He’s going to have to sit down with them, he’s going to have to sit down with the organization after this, and we’ll evaluate and see if this is the right opportunity to bring him back.”

Irving’s reluctance to apologize came hours before the FBI said it had received credible information about a “broad” threat to synagogues in New Jersey, Irving’s home state.

In Florida on Saturday, the phrase “Kanye is right about the jews” was projected on the outside of one of the end zones at the TIAA Bank Field stadium in Jacksonville during the Florida-Georgia football game — a reference to recent antisemitic comments that the music mogul formerly known as Kanye West has made on social media and in interviews. The incidents come four years after the deadliest attack on American Jews, when 11 people were killed at a synagogue in Pittsburgh.

The Nets also parted ways with coach Steve Nash this week and despite the star tandem of Durant and Irving, the team has a 2-6 record. Durant said the team has the ability to tune out all the turbulence.

“It’s just the way of the NBA now. So many outlets now and their stories hit pretty fast now. That’s where all the chaos is coming from,” he said. “Everybody’s opinions, everybody has an opinion on the situation, we’re hearing it nonstop, but once the ball starts bouncing and we get into practice, none of that stuff really seeps into the gym.”

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