On the day when Brooklyn Nets coach Steve Nash was fired after his team started the season 2-5, the talking heads on TNT’s Emmy-winning Inside the NBA found themselves talking about Nets player Kyrie Irving and the irony that, while Nash was fired for a record that may or may not have been entirely his fault, Irving has faced no official sanction after sharing a video from conspiracy theorist Alex Jones which contained antisemitic tropes.
“I think the NBA dropped the ball. I think he should have been suspended. I think Adam [Silver] should have suspended him,” said Charles Barkley, who is himself no stranger to controversy. “They made a mistake… [and] I can’t believe we’re talking about this idiot.”
He continued, “We have suspended and fined people who have made homophobic slurs. I think if you insult the Black community you should be suspended or fined.”
In a much replayed post game podium debate with an ESPN reporter, Irving argued that he wasn’t promoting the ideas contained in the video, or even the video itself. He said that just posting it to his 5 million Twitter followers with no comment was not promotion, though he later removed it.
Inside the NBA‘s Shaquille O’Neal, who was an early Twitter adopter and currently has 16 million followers said, “You have to be aware of what you’re doing…Some people are conscious and some people are not, i can tell that he is not conscious. When you’re as great at basketball as he is, people listen to you.
“It hurts me that we have to sit up here and talk about stuff that divides us. We have to sit up here and answer for what this idiot has done. I stand for equality of all people.”
How host Ernie Johnson took a more macro view during the debate.
“I just think we’ve lost our way. I think in this country we’ve lost our way,” said Johnson. “We’ve lost the thought process of: If I put this out there, who’s it going to hurt?
“Where’s civility these days? Where’s empathy?” he asked.