‘I don’t think he meant any harm’: Jaylen Brown expresses discomfort with length, nature of Kyrie Irving’s suspension

"It’s part of my job to protect our players legally."

Jaylen Brown
Jaylen Brown is concerned by Kyrie Irving's continued suspension. AP Photo/Winslow Townson

As a vice president of the NBA’s players union, Jaylen Brown has been watching the way the NBA handles Kyrie Irving’s suspension.

On Monday, following the Celtics‘ win over the Thunder, Brown reiterated to reporters that he isn’t comfortable with the terms placed upon Irving’s return after the Nets star posted a link to an antisemitic documentary on social media — sparking a controversy and a back-and-forth with the media that ultimately led to his current status.

Over the weekend, Nets owner Joe Tsai said Irving “still has work to do” before he can return to the floor. Brown retweeted Tsai’s quote and called it “alarming” — a sentiment he reiterated to reporters when asked on Tuesday.

“He didn’t say that the organization was working together to get Kyrie back on the floor. He said that he had more work to do,” Brown said. “And our society has more work to do, including Joe Tsai. It’s 2022. It takes 10 minutes of time to see who these business owners, corporations etc., who they’re associated with and who they’re doing business with, who they’re affiliated with.


“I’m vice president of the union, and it’s part of my job to protect our players legally. And to see Phil Knight first come out and condemn Kyrie, and also see Joe Tsai say he has more work to do, I think it’s time for a larger conversation.”

Brown noted that both NBA commissioner Adam Silver and Tsai have said that Irving is not antisemitic. Silver recently told the New York Times that the post did “enormous” damage to Irving and — potentially — to the Nets and the NBA.

Still, Brown is uncomfortable with the way the league has put Irving in limbo — a situation Brown feels is unprecedented.

“I think it’s uncharted territory,” Brown said. “I think it’s no distinction between what somebody says vs. what somebody posts, and I guess that’s what they are trying to figure out. The terms that the Brooklyn Nets instituted for his return, I voiced my discomfort. …

“It’s still an indefinite suspension, he’s already missed five or six games, so how many games is he going to continue to miss? Is it another situation going on there? Is it a larger situation going on there, is it a larger conversation that needs to be had? We’ve yet to find out.”


Brown was asked if he believes it is ever reasonable for an organization to look for contrition from its players.

“I’m not sure if that is something that Kyrie is looking to do,” Brown said. “I don’t think he meant any harm by posting it. Obviously, it came off as insensitive to a lot of people, but Adam came out with a statement, he doesn’t believe Kyrie Irving is antisemitic. Joe Tsai came out and said a statement that they don’t believe he is antisemitic. Those are their words, so he has already apologized formally through his IG post. …

“But the comment that Joe Tsai made, which I feel like bothered a lot of people was like, ‘He has more work to do.’ Like, what does that mean? Our society has more work to do, including Joe Tsai. So I’m curious to know what that is, what that means.”


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