Kyrie Irving’s eight-game suspension ended Sunday when the star point guard suited up for the Brooklyn Nets’ game against the Memphis Grizzlies.
Irving had not played for the Nets since November 1. The Nets suspended Irving on Nov. 3 after he tweeted a link to a documentary containing anti-Semitic messages, followed by an initial refusal to issue an apology.
Since then, Irving has issued multiple apologies, including during his pregame media availability on Sunday.
“I just want to offer my deepest apologies to everyone who has been affected in these last few weeks, specifically my Jewish relatives, my Black relatives, all races and cultures,” Irving said Sunday. “I feel like we all feel an impact and I don’t advocate anything like hate speech or anti-Semitism or anything that is ‘anti’, that goes against the human race.”
“I feel like it was necessary for me to stand in this place and take responsibility for my actions,” Irving said.
Irving received a warm welcome from the Brooklyn crowd during player introductions before kickoff. He finished the night with 14 points and five rebounds in the Nets’ 127-115 win over the Grizzlies.
Irving said after the game that it “felt good” to be back on the court.
“I missed my teammates,” Irving told reporters. “I missed the coaching staff. Just getting ready with them in the morning and getting on with the game, he felt good.”
Asked if he would file a complaint about his suspension, Irving said he would leave that decision up to his legal team.
“I have some strong people, men and women, around me who are going to do everything they can to make sure that I am protected and my family is protected and we protect each other, so I am sure that some things will be done in the future. future,” Irving said. “There is no timetable for that at this time.”
Speaking before Sunday’s game, Nets coach Jacque Vaughn didn’t waver in his decision to put Irving on the court to start the game.
“He’ll start, and we’ll see where his conditioning is, the pace of the game that we want to play. Excited to have him back on the court with our group, and he’ll be a great fit,” Vaughn said.
During an interview Saturday with SNY’s Ian Begley, Irving said he reacted emotionally to being called an “anti-Semite.”
“I felt like I was protecting my character and I reacted out of pure defense and it hurt that I could be labeled, or I thought I was being labeled as anti-Semitic or anti-Jewish, and I felt like that was just so disrespectful asking me if I was anti-Semitic or not,” Irving said. .
The Nets’ next scheduled game is Tuesday at the Philadelphia 76ers.