Irving will miss his seventh consecutive game Tuesday after Brooklyn suspended the guard for his repeated refusal to apologize for posts linking to an antisemitic film. When asked Saturday if Irving would return having served the five-game minimum timeframe, Tsai said the guard “still had work to do.”
Brown took issue with the comment, calling the response “alarming for multiple reasons.”
This response is alarming for multiple reasons https://t.co/LCIEERpNYF
— Jaylen Brown (@FCHWPO) November 13, 2022
The Celtics star elaborated on this Monday night.
“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.' Our society has more work to do, including Joe Tsai,” Brown said. “It's 2022, it takes ten minutes of time to see who these business owners, corporations, etc., who they're associated with, who they're doing business with, who they're affiliated with.”
Brown was referring to Tsai's company Alibaba, which supported China’s cultural genocide of the Uyghur Muslims, according to an ESPN article citing a congressional report, among other sources.
Nike also announced it would cut ties with Irving, whose signature sneaker line was among the company's best sellers, amid the controversy. Brown took issue with Nike founder and chairman Phil Knight saying Irving “stepped out of line” by posting the antisemitic film on social media.
Since when did Nike care about ethics? https://t.co/f8t2eY994v
— Jaylen Brown (@FCHWPO) November 10, 2022
“To see Phil Night first come out and condemn Kyrie and then to also see Joe Tsai say he has more work to do, I think it's time for a larger conversation,” Brown said.
Brown and the players' union took issue with six outlined steps Brooklyn said Irving must complete before he can return. LeBron James also tweeted that the requirements were “excessive” and said Irving is “not the person that’s being portrayed of him.”
“To say that this is what is needed for somebody to return. We just thought that was excessive, players thought that was excessive,” Brown said Monday.
Given some players' discomfort with the requirements, Brown was asked what he felt would have been an appropriate response from the Nets to Irving's social media posts.
“I think it’s uncharted territory,” he replied. “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.
“We've yet to hear what is the latest with that situation,” Brown continued. “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.”
After refusing to apologize in person during multiple press conferences, Irving issued an apology on Instagram hours after receiving his suspension. Many have viewed the apology as sufficient for Irving to return to Brooklyn. Tsai is not one of those people.
“He has to show people that he’s sorry,” Tsai told The New York Post Saturday. “What’s important — and what people miss — is he only apologized after he was suspended.”
Irving reportedly had a productive meeting with Adam Silver early last week before meeting with Tsai Thursday. Tsai tweeted following the meeting that both sides “understand each other” and are “working constructively towards a process of forgiveness, healing and education.”
In an email to its members Friday, the NBPA said there was optimism Irving and the Nets would come to a resolution “very soon,” according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. Despite this, Tsai's comments Saturday indicate the organization still feels Irving must take further steps, again casting doubt on the guard's future with the team.
The Nets and Kyrie, together with the NBA and NBPA, are working constructively toward a process of forgiveness, healing and education.
— Joe Tsai (@joetsai1999) November 11, 2022
Brown was asked Monday, despite his vocal discomfort with Brooklyn's requirements for Irving's return, if it was appropriate for the team to find a framework for the guard to show genuine contrition.
“I think you are asking for a need to satisfy the common public and 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 that 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,’ What does that mean? Our society has more work to do, including Joe Tsai,” Brown continued. “So I’m curious to know what that is, what that means.”
With Irving set to miss his seventh straight game, Marc Stein reported Monday that the NBPA could file a grievance on behalf of the seven-time All-Star if he and the Nets cannot reach an agreement on a return.
Brooklyn sits at 6-8 following a back-t0-back against the LA Clippers and Los Angeles Lakers this weekend. The Nets will wrap up a four-game West Coast trip with matchups against the Sacramento Kings and Portland Trail Blazers before returning home to face the Memphis Grizzlies on Sunday.