Amar’e Stoudemire has a simple message for Kyrie Irving: “You made a mistake, so apologize for it.”
Stoudemire, who converted to Judaism in 2020 while living in Israel after his NBA career, knows Irving from his time as an assistant with the Nets the last two seasons.
“You have to give an apology because if you’re going to promote a documentary that has false allegations inside of it, and you may not understand that these allegations that’s inside the documentary are false, OK you made a mistake, right?” the six-time NBA All-Star said in regards to Irving on ESPN’s “Get Up!” on Wednesday. “So apologize for it.
“And so I think that’s the issue. By not apologizing for that, the NBA’s going to probably take a look at it.”
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As Rolling Stone first reported in an article Friday, Irving promoted a movie called “Hebrews to Negroes: Wake Up Black America” that, as the magazine points out, is “stuffed with antisemitic tropes.” The film also cites a quote attributed to Adolph Hitler, although it is apparently not real.
After posting the tweet Thursday, Irving deleted it Sunday night. During a contentious meeting with the media Saturday night, he said he was not anti-Semitic yet doubled down on his beliefs about the film while also defending conspiracy theorist Alex Jones. He has yet to apologize and the Nets said Tuesday they are working with the Anti-Defamation League on the situation.
Asked if Irving should be suspended, Stoudemire said, “Well, I think something has to happen, intensive conversations with the Commissioner (Adam Silver) about what he’s doing and what his plans are as a basketball player. So I think that conversation has to happen. As far as (punishment), I’m not sure how that’s going to play out.
“I mean, Kyrie’s a guy who’s trying to find himself. He’s always on this quest for learning and information. And if you’re not totally understanding what you’re learning and what you’re trying to promote, then just don’t promote it. Just learn quietly and try to figure it out. But once you starting putting information out there that’s not true, then now it creates a problem.”
Charles Barkley and Shaquille O’Neal both ripped Irving as an “idiot,” with Barkley adding that the “NBA dropped the ball” by failing to suspend Irving.
“I think he should have been suspended him,” Barkley said on Tuesday’s “Inside the NBA.” “I think (NBA commissioner) Adam (Silver) should have suspended him. First of all, Adam is Jewish — you can’t take my $40 million and insult my religion. You gonna insult me, you have the right, but I have the right to say, ‘You can’t take my $40 million and insult my religion.’ I think the NBA, they made a mistake. We’ve suspended people and fined people who have made homophobic slurs. And that was the right thing to do. If you insult the Black community, you should be suspended or fined heavily.”
In March of 2021, the NBA fined Meyers Leonard of the Miami Heat $50,000 and suspended him from team activities for one week for an anti-Semitic comment. Yet Irving, a West Orange native and former St. Patrick High School star, so far has received zero punishment.
“It hurts me sometimes when we have to sit up here to talk about stuff that divides the game,” O’Neal said. “That we gotta answer for what this idiot has done.”
Reggie Miller, the former NBA star and current commentator, said other NBA players need to step up, too.
“In years past, this league has been great because the players have led the way and they have strong voices,” Miller said per the “New York Post.” “When Donald Sterling stepped in it, when 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. … And it’s disappointing, because this league has been built on the shoulders of the players being advocates. Right is right and wrong is wrong. And if you’re gonna call out owners, and rightfully so, then you’ve got to call out players as well. You can’t go silent in terms of this for Kyrie Irving. I want to hear the players and their strong opinions as well, just as we heard about Robert Sarver and Donald Sterling.”
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Adam Zagoria is a freelance reporter who covers Seton Hall and NJ college basketball for NJ Advance Media. You may follow him on Twitter @AdamZagoria and check out his Website at ZAGSBLOG.com.