Four rabbis attending the Dallas Mavericks and Utah Jazz game on Monday were asked to put away signs that read, “I’m Jewish and I’m Proud” after Mavs player Kyrie Irving reportedly took offense.
The message of the signs was reportedly intended for Irving in reference to him posting a link to an apparently antisemitic movie on Amazon titled Hebrews to Negros while a member of the Nets in 2022, which resulted in his suspension.
The group of men was approached by Jazz officials who checked their tickets and ordered them to put the signs away.
Utah would go on to defeat the Mavs 127-90.
Following the incident, the Jazz released a statement explaining that it was not the content of the signs at issue but rather the distraction they posed that led to the rabbis being told to put them down.
“During an out-of-bounds play in the first quarter of yesterday’s Jazz game against the Dallas Mavericks, there was a group sitting courtside whose signs sparked an interaction with a player that created a distraction and interfered with the play of game,” the statement said.
Rabbi Avremi Zippel said Irving told him, “There was no reason to bring that to the game.”
However, according to Irving’s representative, the player did not complain about the signage to security, nor did he acknowledge the rabbis.
Irving later told a reporter for ESPN, “I wish him and his family well. No disrespect going their way. That’s not my MO.”
Antisemitic incidents have been on the rise globally and have become particularly commonplace following the October 7 terrorist attack by Hamas against Israel. Numerous anti-Israel protests have been carried out and have caused disruption and fear among the Jewish population.
The director of the Anti-Defamation League said in November that cases of antisemitic incidents have increased by 388%. He cited protests at Harvard and Cornell universities, along with happenings in places like Chicago and the Bay Area.
The ongoing protests have had far-reaching impacts, including a protest in Los Angeles that shut down a freeway and the cancellation of the annual Christmas Tree lighting ceremony in Sacramento. A protest in Dallas resulted in several arrests last October, as The Dallas Express reported.