Kyrie Irving antisemitism controversy puts strain on community where he grew up
The hallway to the gym at the Young Men's Young Women's Hebrew Association in Union Township has a long wall of photos of basketball stars who have come through the New Jersey Roadrunners AAU program which calls the YMCA their home.
More than three dozen of the program’s former players have gone on to the NBA, including Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving, who grew up in West Orange.
Irving’s high school alma mater, the Patrick School in Hillside, also practices at the Union Y, with players heading to practice filing past Jewish families taking their kids to day care in the hallway.
It's a unique relationship between New Jersey's Jewish and basketball communities that played no small role in Irving's success.
But now Irving's once close ties to the Jewish community are under strain. He's currently suspended by the Nets for tweeting a link to a film containing antisemitic content.
"It hurts," said Roadrunners founder Sandy Pyonin, who trained Irving at the Y for four years when he was a teenager. "There's no excuse for what he did. He's a bright kid who should have read up on what he was promoting.”
On today's episode of "Brian's Positively New Jersey," Brian Donohue speaks with Pyonin about the dismay in the Jewish community - and the danger posed to it - by Irving's actions.