NEW YORK -- Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving has issued an apology for tweeting a link to an antisemitic documentary.
The apology comes just hours after the team suspended Irving for five games without pay, for initially defending his actions.
"To all Jewish families and communities that are hurt and affected from my post, I am deeply sorry to have caused you pain and I apologize...", Irving posted on his Instagram.
The athlete said he acted out of emotion when he was "unjustly" labeled as anti-Semitic.
On Wednesday, Irving and the Nets announced that they would both donate $500,000 to anti-hate organizations, like the Anti-Defamation League.
The ADL's CEO says the organization will not be accepting a donation.
Hours after Irving refused to issue the apology that NBA Commissioner Adam Silver sought for posting a link to an antisemitic work on his Twitter feed, the Nets said that Irving is "currently unfit to be associated with the Brooklyn Nets."
"We were dismayed today, when given an opportunity in a media session, that Kyrie refused to unequivocally say he has no antisemitic beliefs, nor acknowledge specific hateful material in the film. This was not the first time he had the opportunity - but failed - to clarify," the Nets said in a statement.
Irving's reluctance to apologize earlier on Thursday came hours before the FBI said it had received credible information about a "broad" threat to synagogues in New Jersey, the athlete's home state.
The Nets said they made multiple attempts in recent days to help Irving understand the harm and danger of his words and actions, but it was clear during the point guard's interview after practice earlier Thursday that little had changed.
He was later asked if he had antisemitic beliefs and did not say no.
Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt reacted to a video of Irving's response to that question on Twitter by writing: "The answer to the question 'Do you have any antisemitic beliefs' is always "NO" without equivocation."
"Kyrie clearly has a lot of work to do," Greenblatt added.
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver announced that he would meet with Irving next week to discuss his actions.
"While we appreciate the fact that he agreed to work with the Brooklyn Nets and the Anti-Defamation League to combat antisemitism and other forms of discrimination, I am disappointed that he has not offered an unqualified apology and more specifically denounced the vile and harmful content contained in the film he chose to publicize," the commissioner said.
This incident is not the first time the Nets have had to deal out consequences to Irving. Last year it was when he refused to be vaccinated against COVID-19, making him ineligible to play home games. They didn't want him to be a part-time player, though eventually brought him back to play road games in December.
The Nets did not have Irving speak to reporters after their two games this week, hoping to avoid further upsetting fans, but the time away didn't change Irving's stance.
Irving was also asked specifically about his beliefs regarding the Holocaust.
"Those falsehoods are unfortunate," Irving said, referring to content in the film. "And it's not that I don't believe in the Holocaust. I never said that. Never, ever have said it. It's not come out of my mouth. I never tweeted it. I never liked anything like it. So the Holocaust in itself is an event that means something to a large group of people that suffered something that could have been avoided."
The Nets said Irving's suspension would last "until he satisfies a series of objective remedial measures that address the harmful impact of his conduct."
The Nets are off to a 2-6 start, costing coach Steve Nash his job Tuesday.