As Kyrie Irving remained on the court for the Nets in the aftermath of his promotion of an antisemitic film and book on social media earlier this week, one prominent NBA voice was not pleased.
Speaking on the halftime broadcast of NBA on TNT, Charles Barkley lambasted the league for not suspending Irving, saying that the NBA “dropped the ball” in letting Irving’s actions go without, to this point, any consequences.
“I think he should have been suspended. I think Adam [Silver] should have suspended him,” Barkley said. “First of all, Adam’s Jewish. You can’t take my $40 million and insult my religion … I think the NBA made a mistake. We have suspended people and fined people who have made homophobic slurs, and that was the right thing to do.”
Following Irving’s post, the Nets condemned Irving’s decision to promote the film Hebrews to Negroes: Wake Up Black America with a statement, saying the team has “no tolerance for the promotion of any form of hate speech.” When asked about it during a postgame press conference, Irving became defensive and refused to apologize in a heated exchange with a reporter.
“Did I do anything illegal? Did I hurt anybody?” Irving asked reporters in regard to the tweet. “Did I harm anybody? Am I going out and saying that I hate one specific group of people?”
Barkley, who referred to Irving as an “idiot” during the segment, decried Irving’s promotion of the antisemitic texts and the impact it could have on his vast following. When Barkley’s colleague, Ernie Johnson, said that the league could still move forward with disciplinary action, Barkley insisted that it was already too late.
“The reason it’s too late—the NBA is giving in to peer pressure,” Barkley said. “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.”
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