BY LESLIE MONTEIRO
(Photo credit: Dustin Satloff/Getty Images)
The Nets finally suspended Kyrie Irving for a minimum of five games after being criticized for doing nothing initially when he retweeted an antisemitic film on Twitter and doubling down on it in a press conference on Saturday night. Of course, after the suspension, he apologized on Instagram.
For Irving, the Nets and NBA commissioner Adam Silver, it was a day late and a dollar short.
It shouldn’t have taken so many days later for any of the parties to address it. It should have been done swiftly, especially from Silver and the Nets’ perspective. Irving’s teammates and the players around the league should have condemned the Nets point guard.
The Nets hoped to weather the storm with the idea it would go away. Shoot, they fired Steve Nash as their head coach the other day just to change the conversation. It obviously didn’t happen. People were offended and the media kept harping on it to the point the team had no choice but to do something. It was a flawed approach. It was so out of touch.
For Silver to say nothing despite being Jewish, he looks bad in the sense he created the perception the players run over him in the NBA. Yes, the league is a players’ league, but at some point, he needs to take control of the situation.
For Irving, he comes off as disingenuous now with his apology. He did it after he got suspended. How can anyone take him seriously when it took a long time for him to admit it after doubling down about his support of the antisemitic film on Saturday night? He claimed he was trying to be a seeker of truth and knowledge when he supported the film, and now he is sorry. This does not pass the smell test considering there has been so much evidence that the Holocaust did happen. For Pete’s sake, Anne Frank wrote a diary about her experience of the Holocaust, so who is Irving trying to fool?
The Nets only apologized since they were in danger of losing sponsors and they wanted Irving’s distraction to go away. Silver addressed it days after he received criticism for saying nothing. Irving only apologized so he can get back to playing basketball.
For Silver and the Nets, this will go away. For Irving, this won’t.
Irving will be heckled on the road for a long time after his actions. Fans don’t forget stuff like that, and they will use this to get into his head. This will wear on him and the Nets eventually. It’s hard to say he recovers from this no matter how much he and the Nets want this to go away.
Sure he is used to being heckled, but this new episode will make it worse. This is personal when he goes after Jewish people and not be educated about this.
It’s one thing to say this is free speech and claim ignorance. It’s another to go after people who have been educated to know what happened during the Holocaust.
We like to think we are a progressive society, but in reality, we live in a backward society when we act like what went on in the past with our bigotry. Racism has been alive and well for a long time. Some of it is blatant such as in the case with Irving, and some of it comes from microaggressions.
This has no place in society, and Irving’s racial opinions have no place in sports, a place where all races come together to enjoy it for a few hours.
I don’t think Irving is a racist. He was misinformed, but there’s no excuse to endorse a conspiracy theory that has no merit whatsoever, especially if he is representing an organization that he works for.
Irving has been nothing but trouble since day 1 for the Nets. He got Kenny Atkinson fired and then quit on them when the Nets were on the bubble to play after the pandemic took place in his first season. Last season, he spoke out on vaccination and compromised his team by not being vaccinated – a requirement to play home games in New York City – so he became a part-time participant by playing games on the road. His refusal to play broke up the trio he was in with Kevin Durant and James Harden because Harden wanted out of the Nets due to Irving’s lack of commitment to the team. And now, the Nets point guard is embroiled in another controversy.
To make him look like a victim is wrong. The Nets point guard doesn’t know what’s right from wrong. This is not about him being misunderstood. This is more about him being ignorant and stupid.
At some point, this is not funny anymore, especially when it takes the soul out of the Nets.
The Nets will try to make this work for two reasons: One, their best chance to win a championship is with him, even if he checked out. Two, what team would want him?
Make no mistake. This is his last year with the Nets. He knows it. The Nets did not offer him a contract extension, and he knew he wasn’t going to get the contract he needed from anyone if he opted out. This could explain why he checked out and why he is acting out.
By taking action, the Nets are trying to reassert or salvage some control of all this. It was the least they can do here. They had no choice after receiving endless criticism from the local media and national media.
As for Irving, he isn’t changing for everybody. It’s going to be a matter of time until he says or does something so stupid. It’s just who he is. As long as he is a Net, no head coach has a chance to succeed here, even if Nash was fired.
Good luck to the Nets hoping it will be back to basketball moving forward.
This suspension only creates a band aid for a while and nothing more.
This writer can be reached on Twitter: @LeslieMonteiro6
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