Dallas Mavericks guard Kyrie Irving rejected reports that he asked for the removal of a sign a fan was holding during Monday’s game against the Utah Jazz. But, at one point during the first quarter, Irving and the fan were seen having some type of exchange.
The fan was later identified as Avremi Zippel, a rabbi and former Jazz season ticket holder. Zippel sat courtside during the New Year’s game with a sign that read, “I’m Jewish and I’m proud.” The message appeared to reference the backlash Irving faced after posting a link to an anti-Semitic film on social media in 2022. Irving was a member of the Brooklyn Nets at the time.
Irving initially refused to apologize for the post, leading the Nets to suspend him indefinitely on Nov. 3, 2022. A day later, Nike announced that the company had ended its relationship with the star.
Riverton, Utah, Mayor Trent Staggs made an appearance at Dan Dakich from Outkick’s “Don’t @ Me” show and discuss Irving and the sign on the court. Riverton is located about 20 miles from the Jazz’s home stadium.
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“If that sign distracts an NBA player, I think he needs to get a new line of work,” Staggs told Dakich. “I’ve been to so many Jazz games where they handed out towels that we waved and hit with sticks and so many other things that would distract me much more than a sign.”
UTAH REHASHES RABBI SIGNS FIASCO DURING JAZZ GAME AS KYRIE IRVING’S REPRESENTATIVE DENIES COMPLAINT FILED BY STAR
Zippel is believed to have attended the game with a group that included some of his relatives and other rabbis.
Irving reportedly attempted to make clear that he feels “no disrespect” toward rabbis.
“I wish him and his family the best,” Irving said Wednesday, via The Athletic. “Without disrespect, follow his path. That’s not my modus operandi.”
Zippel said Jazz representatives approached him and asked him to put the sign away or move to seats a few rows back. Zippel also claimed that he was given conflicting explanations as to why he was not allowed to display the sign in the front row.
Zippel told The Athletic that he and his group took a photo with the signs before the game and that stadium security did not raise any concerns at the time.
According to Staggs, Zippel reviewed the arena’s guidelines on fan signage before entering the building.
“(The sign) measured 11 inches by 17 inches, which the rabbi reviewed the Jazz audience code of conduct and made sure the sign was within the limits…the regulation size. Therefore, it was in their right to have that sign,” Staggs said.
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The Jazz issued a statement saying the organization did not disagree with the signs’ messages, but said the signs were removed due to their interference with play.
“The part-time employee who told fans that the content of the sign was the problem was incorrect. The problem was the disruptive interaction caused by the use of the signs, not the content of the signs,” the team said in its statement.
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