A group of rabbis was told to remove their “I’m a Jew and I’m proud” signs at the Utah Jazz game on Monday after it allegedly caused a “distraction” to Dallas Mavericks player Kyrie Irving.
Rabbi Avremi Zippel, a lifelong Jazz fan, said he got tickets for himself, his brother, his father and a friend to sit courtside at the Delta Center to watch as the basketball team took on the Mavericks and protest Irving, who was suspended from the Brooklyn Nets in 2022 for tweeting a link to an antisemitic movie and for his initial failure to disavow it.
The rabbi said he sat down before the game and “with a fine tooth comb, researched the Jazz’s code of conduct and the NBA’s code of conduct” to determine whether he could bring such signs to the game — and thought it would be allowed, he told the Salt Lake Tribune.
But during the first quarter, Irving was approaching the sideline to receive an inbound pass and took notice of the rabbis sitting nearby with their signs, Zippel said.
“He comes by, he looks at the sign, and he says, ‘Nice, I’m a Jew, too,” Zippel recounted, saying Irving also showed them a Star of David tattoo he has.
The rabbi said he was annoyed by the comment but did not want to cause a scene, so he simply replied: “Nice, happy New Year, buddy.”
At that point, Zippel said Irving began to get upset and told him there is “no need to bring that to a game.”
The incident only escalated from there, with Zippel claiming the Mavericks guard spoke to security staff and Jazz officials came over to check the rabbis’ tickets and told them to put the signs away.
“That Kyrie Irving is a coward with the spine of a goldfish is not news to me,” Zippel wrote on X following the incident. “That the Mavericks organization covers for him, is sadly, not news to me.”
“I want to be very clear: At no point did we boo Kyrie,” Zippel added to the Deseret News.
“The message was a simple one: I’m a Jew, I’m a proud Jew and I’m here tonight because of what my people have endured.”
In a statement, the Utah Jazz said the signs were in breach of its audience code of conduct — which states that games must be played “without distraction or disturbance.”
“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 sign sparked an interaction with a player that created a distraction and interfered with the play of the game,” it said.
Jazz officials also noted that a “part-time employee” who told the rabbis that the sign was problematic because of its content was “incorrect.”
“The issue was the disruptive interaction caused by usage of the signs, not the content of the signs,” the team said.
Reacting to the statement, Zippel said: “The Jazz seemed to fully acknowledge that we said nothing to Kyrie [but that] Kyrie walked over, saw the sign and chose to comment on it.
“And so this idea that you have signage that sparks interaction with a player, we’re going to ask you to take down that sign, I’m curious where that precedent leads to, I’m curious where that goes, how broadly that can be applied,” he told the Tribune.
Zippel also wrote on X the “bottom line” is “there was one person in a building of 18,000+ that was triggered by [a] sign that says ‘I’m a Jew and I’m proud.’
“Why that bothers him so, to the point that it sparks an interaction, should be the real question anyone is asking,” he said.
“Sadly, instead of just quietly chalking this up to a misunderstanding and letting this remain a small blip, the Jazz took the side of said triggered player and doubled down. That’s just super disappointing to me.”
Still, Zippel said he remains a lifelong Jazz fan and will continue to support the team.
“My experience with the Jazz over the years has been nothing short of overwhelmingly and incredibly positive and supportive,” he told the Deseret News.
“The team was one of the first NBA organizations to issue a statement in support of Israel as the war was just beginning,” he said, adding that he recently had the opportunity to light a menorah at a game and celebrate Jewish heritage.
The Post reached out to the Mavericks for comment.