On Friday, Lakers forward LeBron James finally addressed the Kyrie Irving situation, a day after the Brooklyn Nets guard and former teammate on the Cleveland Cavaliers was suspended for anti-semitic comments.
James, who has quickly spoken out many times on various race-related controversies, finally got around to addressing the Irving situation after days of silence.
“He caused some harm, and I think it’s unfortunate,” James said to reporters. “But I don’t stand on the position to harm people when it comes to your voice or your platform or anything. So it doesn’t matter what color your skin is, how tall you are, what position you’re in. If you are promoting or soliciting or saying harmful things to any community that harms people, then I don’t respect it. I don’t condone it. ”
James also referenced his media company Uninterrupted’s decision to spike an episode of his YouTube show, The Shop, featuring Kanye West, himself involved in controversy over his anti-semitic remarks.
“Part of the reason why I didn’t air The Shop episode, why we kicked that out of the archives, ”he said. “Because it was hate conversation going on there. And I don’t represent that. There’s no place in this world for it. Nobody can benefit from that, and I believe what Kyrie did caused some harm to a lot of people. ”
Irving was finally suspended Thursday by the Brooklyn Nets for his anti-semitic comments and ambiguous apologies. But it took days before the team took its first action in the matter, twice supervising Irving’s statements on the matter, which were largely mealy-mouthed.
That botched approach was topped by NBA league commissioner Adam Silver, who said he would meet with Irving “in the next week” to discuss the matter. He’ll have plenty of time to schedule, as Irving is now on an indefinite suspension of at least five games, but likely more.
But the slow-walking of action against Irving by the Nets and the league is actually better than the reaction from players, who have largely taken a “shut up and dribble” approach.
Irving’s Nets teammate, Kevin Durant, actually thought his team didn’t need to get involved in the mess Irving created.
“I ain’t here to judge nobody or talk down on the life or how they feel with their views and things,” Durant said. “I just didn’t like anything that went on. I felt like it was all unnecessary. I felt like we could have just kept playing basketball and kept quiet as an organization. ”
So far, James and Cleveland’s Robin Lopez are the only active players denouncing Irving’s actions. While Lopez did not formally issue a statement, his Twitter activity has made clear his stance on the issue.
The National Basketball Players Association has issued a statement condemning anti-semitism, perhaps providing some cover for its membership.
“Anti-Semitism has no place in our society,” the statement read. “The NBPA is focused on creating an environment where everyone is accepted. We are committed to helping players fully understand that certain words can lead to hateful ideologies being spread. We will continue to work on identifying and combating all hate speech wherever it arises. “
Despite the active players’ silence, several retired NBA players have taken on Irving’s comments.
Reggie Miller, a former NBA star turned basketball commentator, spoke during TNT’s broadcast of the Chicago Bulls-Brooklyn Nets game Tuesday night to blast current players for their silence.
“In years past, this league has been great because the players have led the way and they have strong voices,” said Miller. “When (former Los Angeles Clippers owner) Donald Sterling stepped in it, when (Phoenix Suns owner) Robert Sarver just recently stepped in it, our voices in the basketball community and our players were vocally strong in some type of discipline being handed down – or be gone.
“The players have dropped the ball on this case when it’s been one of their own. It’s been crickets. “