CHICAGO — Boston Celtics guard Jaylen Brown said he does not endorse the group of protesters who lined up Sunday outside of Barclays Center before Kyrie Irving’s return from suspension, reiterating that he was happy to see support for the Brooklyn Nets’ guard getting to play again.
Members of Israel United in Christ, which has been designated a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, handed out flyers before Sunday’s game that read: “The Truth About Anti-Semitism” and “The Truth about Slavery.”
Brown said Monday that he did not realize the group’s message when he retweeted a video of the group with the caption “Energy.”
“I saw a large group of our people from our community showing support for [Kyrie] and his return,” Brown said Monday. “Me being proud of that support and being proud of our community for doing that does not mean I endorse or celebrate some of the things that were being done or being said.
“My instinct when I saw this was I didn’t notice which group it was. I just noticed the support, and that’s what I commented on. I reemphasize that I don’t think that everything that is said or being done or being said is something I endorse or represent.”
Brown attempted to clarify his initial tweet with a follow-up Sunday night that he believed it was the Omega Psi Phi fraternity showing support for Irving and said he did not consider taking down his initial tweet because it would be removing his support for Irving and his return.
Brown said he simply wanted to promote “Brown and Black people standing together on our issues rather than seeing images of violence in our media, music and movies that we don’t entirely promote or profit from.”
Brown, who like Irving is one of the vice presidents of the National Basketball Players Association, has been critical of Nets owner Joe Tsai for the way the organization handled Irving’s suspension, which lasted eight games for what the team termed the “harmful impact of his conduct” relating to social media posts around a book and movie that contained antisemitic themes.
Brown has voiced his discomfort with the terms the Nets laid out for Irving in order to return to the court.
“I’ve been in contact as a union member, as a former teammate just to show support for the situation that [Irving’s] been going through,” Brown said. “Being exiled from the game, of course, emotionally is a lot on our league, but it’s a lot on everyone who’s a fan of this game.
“Kyrie’s contributed in a lot of ways to the game of basketball, so for him to be able to come back and be on the floor last night, I thought was something to celebrate. I thought that was something to support. The NBA, the Brooklyn Nets decided whatever the disagreements were or the concern was, was obviously handled and we were moving on. I was supporting that decision.”