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Jaylen Brown: it’s time for “larger conversation” about Kyrie Irving’s suspension

When asked Tuesday, Brown expressed discomfort about the terms of Irving’s suspension and his extended time away from the Nets.

NBA: Oklahoma City Thunder at Boston Celtics Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

When the Brooklyn Nets take on the Sacramento Kings on Tuesday night, Kyrie Irving won’t be there. On Nov. 3, the Nets deemed him “unfit to be associated” with the franchise for a minimum of five games. This, of course, was after Irving chose not to “disavow antisemitism” following the now-infamous tweet in which he included a link to a film chock-full of antisemitic tropes.

Irving’s absence on Tuesday will be his seventh since receiving this suspension. Jaylen Brown has a problem with that.

Following Boston’s 126-122 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Monday, Brown noted that “it’s time for a larger conversation” about the suspension and how, according to Brown, the NBA has kept Irving in limbo despite the fact that he has missed five games. (Again, that number was the minimum.) Over the weekend, Nets’ owner Joe Tsai said Irving “still has work to do” before returning to the floor. Brown disagreed then via Twitter. On Monday, his comments came at the podium.

“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,” Brown said. “And our society has more work to do, including Joe Tsai. It’s 2022. It takes 10 minutes to see who these business owners, corporations, etc., who they’re associated with, who they’re doing business with, and who they’re affiliated with.”

The Celtics’ All-Star is also the Vice President of the Players Association, and feels it’s “part of [his] job to protect [the] players legally.” He acknowledges that both NBA commissioner Adam Silver and Tsai have said publicly that they do not believe Irving is antisemitic but doesn’t understand why Irving can’t return to action if these sentiments are true.

“I think it’s uncharted territory,” Brown said of the way the Nets and the league have handled Irving’s suspension. “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. The terms that the Brooklyn Nets instituted for his return, I voiced my discomfort.

“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.”

Brown is not the first big-name player to call for the Nets to end Irving’s suspension. Just last week, LeBron James, Irving’s former teammate, tweeted, “Kyrie apologized and he should be able to play. ... Help him learn- but he should be playing. What he’s asked to do to get back on the floor I think is excessive IMO. He’s not the person that’s being portrayed of him.”

As for how Brown and the NBPA are handling the situation, the latest reports seem to hint that they’re planning to take action. Last week, Brown told the Boston Globe’s Gary Washburn that the players’ union would possibly appeal the Nets' suspension. But just yesterday, Marc Stein wrote in his newsletter that “Irving is itching to get back on the floor and there have been rumbles for days that the National Basketball Players Association, at some stage, could move to file a grievance on Irving’s behalf if the various parties involved can’t reach a resolution on a return timetable.”

Perhaps that’s what comes next. For now, though, players — and, in cryptic ways, Irving himself — might still express concern about how long he remains away from the game. For Brown, it’s about what else Irving is expected to do, especially if he’s not willing to show explicit remorse.

“I’m not sure if [showing contrition] 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 the comment that 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.”

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