Charles Barkley Is Right About Kyrie Irving

Charles Barkley in Shut Up & Dribble on Showtime (season 1, episode 1). Courtesy of Showtime.

Charles Barkley is absolutely right about Kyrie Irving and the NBA’s failure to take action on his pushing an antisemitic documentary.

Barkley’s comments came Tuesday night as the Inside The NBA crew were were commenting about the situation during the TNT NBA Tip-Off broadcast prior to the Brooklyn Nets facing off against the Chicago Bulls. To say that the NBA “dropped the ball” is not an understatement. They put out a press release condemning antisemitism and all forms of hate speech without explicitly listing Kyrie Irving’s name. Irving has been widely condemned and rightfully so. It comes just after celebrities and influencers were calling out Kanye West and the subsequent white supremacist banner in Los Angeles. If Kyrie Irving pushing an antisemitic documentary weren’t enough, the Chicago Cubs now have a similar on their hands with pitcher Marcus Stroman. Deadspin has the full rundown.

Ernie Johnson opened things up by recapping what happened, including the Saturday night exchange ESPN reporter Nick Friedell and Kyrie Irving. He first turned to Shaquille O’Neal to talk about what happened.

Shaquille O’Neal was an early Twitter adopter but he knew the power and responsibility that came with being on the platform. The following is a portion of his comments:

“You have to be aware of what you’re doing. You have to be aware that sometimes when you put stuff out, not everybody’s going to like it. Some people are conscious and some people are not. I can tell that he is not conscious. He doesn’t really care what’s going on….

“It hurts me that we have to sit up here and talk about stuff that divides the game. We’ve got to answer for what this idiot has done. I stand for equality of all people. I’ve always been like that.”

Charles Barkley:

“I think the NBA dropped the ball….I think he should have been suspended. I think Adam [Silver] should have suspended him. First of all, Adam is Jewish. You can’t take my $40 million and insult my religion. You’re going to 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, they have made a mistake. We have suspended and fined people who have made homophobic slurs and that was the right thing to do. I think if you insult the Black community, you should be suspended or fined heavily depending–I saw they did the same thing that they did to the kid in Minnesota this year when he made the gay slur. I think you should get suspended or fined.”

I think him acknowledging the Alex Jones things–something should have happened with that, too, because that dude’s crazy. I can’t believe that we ain’t talking about that. We’re talking about this idiot. If I say, hey, I’m agreeing with this movie, this book, or whatever, I’m agreeing with it. I’m not gonna put–first of all, you know I don’t do any social media but when you are somebody that’s great at basketball like him, people gonna listen to you, what you say, and there are fringe people out there. Like I say, I blame the NBA. He should have been suspended.

Johnson noted that the conversations between Brooklyn Nets and Irving are continuing. Barkley, who is in the right, says that it’s too late. He’s correct about peer pressure and the NBA should have taken action immediately.

Kenny Smith mentions that there are people who have done great things but said crazy stuff. Smith mentions that if he believes parts of it, he has to believe the totality.

Johnson did offer some thoughts of his own”

“I just think Kyrie’s just part of this. I just think we’ve lost our way. I think in this country we’ve lost our way. I think people have forgotten what it’s like to put the thought process of: if I put this out there, who am I going to hurt? You’re giving no thought to them. Where’s civility these days? Where’s empathy? It’s a worrisome road and it’s a dangerous road that we find ourselves now. Look, Chuck and I, on our podcast today, we had Rabbi Erez Sherman from Sinai Temple in Los Angeles to talk about this situation and it bares hearing.”

At this point, they played an excerpt of the podcast:

Ernie Johnson: If you were face to face with Kyrie Irving, what would you say?

Erez Sherman: I would say, come into my synagogue. Meet my children. Learn about us as a community. Teach our children what it means to be a human being in this great country of America, and then, I think good things can happen.

Charles Barkley: We as Black people, we know racism. We want people to have empathy and they’re not going to have empathy for us if we insult other religious groups. If minorities don’t work together and just pick on each other, call each other names, make these stupid stereotypes, we’re never gonna heal.

Erez Sherman: What has to be done is conversation, is meeting the other. That has to start now. It has to start young and the reason that I love this show is because it has to start in the sports world. Sports and faith intersect in a very deep way and that has brought so many people together and I know it has the power to continue to do that as well.

Kyrie Irving should take a lesson from Meyers Leonard: own up for his actions, apologize, and do the work. Instead, the NBA isn’t taking any actions to suspend him while the Brooklyn Nets are having discussions behind the scenes. Sharing Seats co-founder Mike Dube recently attended a game with front row seats and shirts that said FIGHT ANTISEMITISM. Brooklyn is home to one of the largest Jewish communities in the United States. If I were a Nets fan, I would not attend any games while knowing that I was helping pay Kyrie Irving’s salary. We’ll see what happens but the Nets seems to have a whole lot of problems right now.

View the full exchange below:

Edit: According to Stefan Bondy at the New York Daily News, Kyrie Irving didn’t meet with the Anti-Defamation League. Instead, he treated it like a Parent-Teacher Conference and sent his parents. Hopefully, he meets with the ADL soon.

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Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.