Kyrie Irving: ‘I think the NBA dropped the ball,’ says Brooklyn Nets star Charles Barkley
NBA analyst and Hall of Famer Charles Barkley says he thinks the league “dropped the ball” Kyrie Irving after the Brooklyn Nets star released a documentary deemed anti-Semitic.
“I think he [Irving] should have been suspended. I think it’s Adam [Silver, the NBA commissioner] should have suspended him,” Barkley said on TNT Tuesday ahead of the Nets’ game against the Chicago Bulls, in which Irving played.
“First of all, Adam is a Jew. You can’t take my $40 million [Irving’s reported salary] and insulting my religion.
“You will insult me, you have the right, but I have the right to say no.” You’re not going to take my $40 million and insult my religion. I think the NBA made a mistake.”
Irving told reporters on Saturday that he’s “not going to give up on anything I believe in” after being blasted by Nets owner Joe Tsai, among others, for tweeting a link to the 2018 movie “Black Hebrews: Black America Awakens.”
“As for the backlash, we’re in 2022, history shouldn’t be hidden from anyone and I’m not a divisive person when it comes to religion, I’m accepting of all walks of life,” Irving said.
The film is based on Ronald Dalton’s book of the same name, which civil rights groups denounced as anti-Semitic.
“A book and film promoting the trafficking of deeply #anti-Semitic themes, including those promoting the dangerous sects of the Black Hebrew Israelite movement,” tweeted Jonathan Greenblatt, executive director of the Anti-Defamation League.” (ADL)
The NBA released a statement calling the hate speech “unacceptable” and “contrary to the NBA’s values of equality, inclusion and respect.”
“We believe we all have a role to play in ensuring that such words or ideas, including anti-Semitic ones, are challenged and refuted and we will continue to work with all members of the NBA community to ensure that everyone understands the impact of their words and actions,” the league’s statement added. .
The Nets also said they “strongly condemn and have zero tolerance for the promotion of any form of hate speech.”
Asked why Irving wasn’t disciplined for his tweet, Nets general manager Sean Marks told reporters, “I think we’re having these discussions behind the scenes. Honestly, I don’t really want to get into those things right now… I’m really just trying to weigh the best course of action here.”
Marks added that the team is in discussions with the ADL and getting advice on the best course of action. He would not say whether Irving was part of those discussions with the ADL.
In a tumultuous period for the organization, the Nets also announced on Tuesday that they have parted ways with head coach Steve Nash.
The announcement came before the Nets lost 108-99 to the Bulls to go 2-6 on the season, and Jacque Vaughn was named interim head coach.
Marks denied that Nash’s firing had anything to do with the Kyrie Irving situation.
“No. No. We’re trying to separate those two things,” he said.
“That’s a good question and it’s easy to put it all together, but I think at this point we’re trying to separate the basketball side and what’s best for the team moving forward.”
ESPN and The Athletic reported that Brooklyn could hire the suspended coach of the Boston Celtics Making Udoka, but Marks said the team has yet to select its next coach.
“I really don’t think it’s up to me right now to give a list of candidates that we’re talking to and where we’re going to show up and where we’re going to fall on this, but I would say I’ll reserve that for when those decisions are made,” he added.
“I couldn’t give you a time frame on that,” Marks continued. “There’s a reason we made this move when we did because time is ticking. We want this process to be thorough. We’re not going to skip steps on that and we’re going to do our due diligence like everybody else.”
Against the Bulls, Irving started the night 0-for-7 from the field, including 0-of-4 from three-point range, not scoring his first points until 10:20 remained in the fourth quarter.
He finished with four points, seven assists and six rebounds, while Zach LaVine scored 20 of his 29 points in the fourth quarter to help the Bulls to victory.
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