Sports | November 21, 2022 11:32 am

Radical Hebrew Israelites Backing Kyrie Irving Get Support From Jaylen Brown

The Black Hebrew Israelites are categorized as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center

Kyrie Irving and Jaylen Brown spend a moment together before a game.
Kyrie Irving and Jaylen Brown are not making the NBA look very good.
John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty

Winners of nine in a row with the NBA’s best record at 13-3, the Boston Celtics have been the most dominant team in pro basketball in the early portion of this season, and one of the biggest reasons why has been the play of budding superstar Jaylen Brown.

Brown, who is often overshadowed by teammate Jayson Tatum, had 27 points and 10 rebounds on Friday night when the Celtics beat the Pelicans 117-109 in New Orleans and is now ranked 14th in the NBA in scoring with an average of 25.3 points per game. Brown’s early season success should be a great story, but unfortunately it has begun to be overshadowed by his somewhat inexplicable support of Kyrie Irving.

Irving, who posted a link to a documentary filled with antisemitic propaganda last month and was then eventually suspended by the Nets after he refused to say he had no antisemitic beliefs when meeting with reporters, returned on Sunday following an eight-game absence and helped the Nets notch a 127-115 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies in Brooklyn.

Prior to Sunday’s game, members of the Black Hebrew Israelites, who are categorized as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, gathered outside the Barclays Center in Brooklyn and chanted and marched in support of Irving. Brown, in a move that is somewhat akin to what Irving initially did, shared a video showing footage of the hate group demonstrating on behalf of Irving and wrote “energy.” (Per the Anti-Defamation League, antisemitic Black Hebrew Israelites “assert that white people are agents of Satan, Jews are liars and false worshipers of God, and Blacks are the true ‘chosen people’ and are racially superior to other ethnicities.”)

Later, when some social media users pointed out that resharing a video of a hate group demonstrating in support of an on-the-record anti-semite was perhaps not the best look and could fairly easily be interpreted as offering support for Irving’s beliefs, Brown clarified his tweet.

“I was not aware of what specific group that was outside of Barclay’s Center tonight,” he wrote. “I was celebrating the unification of our people welcoming the return of Kyrie to the court, first glance I thought it was a known fraternity the (C/Que’s) Omega psi phi (step’n) showing support.” However, as evidenced by the above, Brown has thus far declined to delete his tweet promoting the Black Hebrew Israelites and, by extension, Irving and the group’s antisemitic beliefs.

It’d be great to give Brown the benefit of the doubt and chalk it up to a mistake, but that’s fairly difficult to do considering he refused to leave Kanye West’s Donda Sports agency until it was basically impossible to stay. Brown, who is the vice president of the Players Association and does have somewhat of a responsibility to advocate for Irving, was also critical of his former teammate being suspended from playing for the Nets.

“I’m not sure if [showing contrition] is something that Kyrie is looking to do,” Brown said last week. “I don’t think he meant any harm by posting it. Obviously, it came off as insensitive to a lot of people…But the comment that [Nets owner] 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.”

Apparently for Brown that means sharing videos of hate groups supporting a vocal antisemite. It’s too bad.