Charles Barkley and Shaquille O’Neal are not happy with the NBA’s decision to not suspend Kyrie Irving for his antisemitic actions on Twitter. Last week, Irving promoted a venomously antisemitic book on Twitter, which Rolling Stone first reported. On Inside the NBA Tuesday, the former pro players said they believed that Irving should have been reprimanded for his hateful actions.
“I think the NBA dropped the ball. I think he should have been suspended. I think Adam [Silver] should have suspended him. You can’t take my $400 million and insult my religion,” said Barkley on the show. “The NBA, they made a mistake.”
Barkley drew on recent examples where the basketball league suspended players for using homophobic slurs, and believed the same should happen with race and ethnic hate.
“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,” he said, adding, “I can’t believe we’re talking about this idiot.”
Barkley said it was “too late now” to fix the issue. O’Neal also spoke about the issue at hand, and explained that he knew he had to be “very responsible” with what he shared on social media, and that it was obvious the Brooklyn Nets player didn’t care.
“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,” O’Neal said. “We have to sit up here and answer for what this idiot has done. I stand for equality of all people.”
While the Nets and team owner Joe Tsai both condemned the tweet, Irving defended himself first on Twitter and then during Saturday’s presser, which at one point featured a heated exchange between Irving and an ESPN NBA reporter. Amid media backlash, Irving deleted the original tweet on Monday.
“There’s things being posted every day. I’m no different from the next human being so don’t treat me any different,” Irving said. “You guys come in here and make up this powerful influence that I have over top of the adultery of, you cannot post that. Why not?”
Kanye West, who has similarly shared antisemitic comments, defended him.