Charles Barkley and Shaquille O’Neal ripped Kyrie Irving, who sparked yet another controversy as a result of his support for a documentary film that features antisemitic tropes.
On 11 November 2022, during the halftime broadcast of the NBA on TNT, Charles fired shots at Irving’s tweet posted on Thursday, which included a page on Amazon promoting and covertly endorsing the 2018 movie “Hebrews to Negroes: Wake Up Black America,” while the post was deleted after some time.
The Nets owner Joe Tsai also tweeted that he was disappointed with Kyrie, who supported a film based on a book full of anti-semitic disinformation.
Barkley admitted that the NBA has “dropped the ball” he told the commissioner of the NBA, Adam Silver that he should’ve suspended Irving. He said Adam is also Jewish, “You can’t take my $40 million and insult my religion. If you’re gonna 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 made a mistake.” Here he made reference to Irving’s estimated earnings of about $37 million, for this season.
The 59-year-old analyst continued: “We have suspended people 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. I saw they did the same thing to the kid [Anthony Edwards] in Minnesota this year when he made the gay slur. I think you should get suspended or fined.”
Watch the video in the tweet below:
Barkley said that Irving’s earlier this year post promoting the decades-old video of Alex Jones talking about hidden organizations should have also resulted in some sort of action. “I can’t believe that we ain’t talking about basketball — we’re talking about this idiot,” Barkley said about Irving. “I blame the NBA.”
However, host Ernie Johnson tried to handle the situation by saying that, the conversations are still taking place surrounding how to move forward from this, but Barkley responded him aid that the NBA waited too long to act.
“The reason it’s too late: The NBA is giving in to peer pressure, If one of our players does something, the team or the league has to do something immediately. If you just give in to peer pressure, that’s the problem I have. This should have been handled already.”
Another NBA champion, Shaquille O’Neal said that not everyone is conscious about how such public messages can impact others. “I can tell he’s not conscious — he doesn’t really care what’s going on, It hurts me sometimes when we have to sit up here to talk about stuff that divides the game. Now we got to answer for what this idiot has done. I stand for equality of all people.”
However, Irving wasn’t willing to take responsibility for what he said. According to a report by ESPN, he said: “I’m not going to stand down on anything that I believe in, I’m only going to get stronger because I’m not alone. I have a whole army around me.”
The NBA stated in a statement on Saturday that hate speech “is unacceptable,” although Irving was not specifically mentioned.