DALLAS — The Dallas Mavericks made national headlines on Sunday when they reportedly traded Dorian Finney-Smith, Spencer Dinwiddie and several draft picks for Brooklyn Nets star guard Kyrie Irving.
The 30-year-old eight-time All-Star is expected to be a new weapon and a true NBA star to pair with Luka Doncic, but he also has a less-than-stellar reputation off the court.
In October, Irving tweeted the link to an antisemitic movie that denied the Holocaust and claimed Jewish people oppress Black people, control media outlets and worship Satan.
"I didn't mean to cause any harm. I'm not the one that made the documentary,” Irving said in a press conference at the time. “I cannot be antisemitic if I know where I come from.”
Aida Drizin is the co-founder of Intown Chabad, a Dallas synagogue for young professionals, and she’s also the big sports fan in her family’s group text.
"They posted, 'oh my God, Kyrie’s coming to Dallas,' and I was like, 'oh,'" she said.
It’s a notable departure from what has made the team easy to cheer for in her eyes.
“The Mavericks have been such a great organization in that they always bring forth players that it’s very easy to support,” she said.
Irving’s tweet and lack of remorse or recognition for the harm it caused led to an eight-game suspension and Nike ending its sponsorship with Irving before he apologized in a written statement. He said he doesn’t stand for hate speech or antisemitism.
“I’m not a fan of cancelling immediately because someone thinks differently than I do, but there are sometimes when you have thoughts that do have ramifications,” Drizin said. “Everything is just percolating right under the surface and it doesn’t really need a lot to take that match and throw it and cause chaos.”
The Dallas Holocaust and Human Rights Museum released a statement that read:
"The Dallas Holocaust and Human Rights Museum welcomes all opportunities to educate groups and individuals who want to learn more about the history of antisemitism and its impact today. The Museum has a strong relationship with the Dallas Mavericks, and we look forward to continuing to serve as a resource for Mavs players, coaches, and staff."
Irving is known for endorsing conspiracy theories, including at least one with a Dallas connection.
Irving has stated he believes President John F. Kennedy was assassinated because he wanted to "end the bank cartel in the world."
In September of last year, Irving shared an old video of Texas-based conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, who was ordered to pay $1.5 billion for falsehoods about the Sandy Hook shooting, where Jones discusses the idea of a "new world order." Irving defended the video stating there were secret societies in America.
He’s repeatedly stated he believes the earth is flat after first sharing the opinion publicly on a podcast in 2017. In the same episode, he stated doubts the 1969 moon landing was real.
Irving’s refusal to get vaccinated against COVID-19 kept him banned from Brooklyn Nets home games until late March of 2022 because of the city’s mandate.
“Honestly, I like to keep that stuff private,” Irving said in September 2022. “I just would love to just keep that private and, you know, handle it the right way with my team.”
“Kyrie has made it clear that he has a choice in this matter and it’s ultimately going to be up to him, what he decides,” Nets general manager Sean Marks said at the time “We respect the fact that he has a choice.”
Drizin believes Irving can grow. She points to former first-round pick and Miami Heat player Meyers Leonard who she followed on Instagram after his suspension for using an antisemitic slur while online gaming and streaming on Twitch.
“He is such an incredible example of what turning ignorance into a knowledge and apologizing honestly about what happened,” Drizin said.
She separates ignorance from hate, saying Irving deserves a chance to learn so he can earn fans’ support.
“I truly believe in redemption and giving people second chances,” she said. “I hope that Kyrie becomes a player that I can support.”
On the court and off, Irving is possibly the biggest risk the Mavs have ever taken.