Charles Barkley, Shaq And More Share Honest Thoughts On Kyrie Irving's Controversial Social Media Post

Kyrie Irving during an interview for Stadium
(Image credit: Stadium)

Kyrie Irving has been embroiled in a social media controversy as of late, which has become a major topic of discussion within the sports world. At the end of October, the Brooklyn Nets point guard tweeted out a post that included a link to an Amazon page marketing the 2018 film Hebrews to Negroes: Wake Up Black America. The production, which features anti-Semitic rhetoric, was also mentioned on Irving’s Instagram stories. Much of the public has weighed in on the matter and, now, veteran players like Charles Barkley and Shaquille O’Neal have shared honest thoughts on the situation. 

On Tuesday night, Kyrie Irving and the Nets played host to the Chicago Bulls and ultimately came up short against the team. Ahead of the game though, the co-hosts of TNT’s Inside the NBA all weighed in on the debate surrounding Irving. Newly resigned panelist Charles Barkley didn’t mince words when discussing what’s gone down. In his estimation, the NBA “dropped the ball” by not taking swift action against the all-star player: 

I think the NBA dropped the ball. … I think he should’ve been suspended. I think [league commissioner] Adam [Silver]. First of all, Adam’s Jewish. … I think the NBA, they made a mistake. We have 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.

Charles Barkley also clapped at the 30-year-old star’s reference to controversial political pundit Alex Jones’ take on alleged secret societies in the U.S. He also asserted to colleague Ernie Johnson that it was “too late” for the league to make a notable move, as he believes the issue should’ve been dealt with immediately. When Barkley’s typically jovial co-host Shaq weighed in on the matter, he stressed that he could only speak for the way he’d have handled things: 

I was probably one of the first [major athletes] on Twitter, and when I realized the power it had, I knew I had to be very responsible. … I try to make people happy, I try to make people smile. My form has always been the same, 60% to make you laugh, 30% to inspire you and 10% whatever I’m selling, I’m selling. You have to be aware of what you’re doing, and you have to be aware that sometimes when you put stuff out, not everyone’s going to like it. Some people are conscious, some people are not. I could tell [Kyrie’s] not conscious, he doesn’t really care with what’s going on. But us, I know the game we used to love and we promote, it brings people together. And it hurts me sometimes when we have to sit up here to talk about stuff that divides the game. Now, we gotta answer for what this idiot. I stand for equality of all people.

Kenny Smith also chimed in during Inside the NBA and provided some diplomatic thoughts. Smith stated that the public must take everything that the Nets star says at face value but gave him the benefit of the doubt when it came to whether or not he supports the views of the movie. Additionally, he shared an honest thought on the press conference: 

If we’re going to take what he says on a Twitter [account], we have to take everything he says. So if I’m going to take everything he says, so I’m going to believe he doesn’t support any of the views. He said it right in my face, I have to accept that so I will believe that. There are people in this world who have done great things that have said crazy things … and you might take an excerpt of that and say, ‘I believe in this.’ OK, so I’ll take that, as it was made from Kyrie Irving. But also believe that the reporter [at the press conference] did have the right to ask the question.

As of this article’s publication, the NBA champion has yet to face disciplinary action from the NBA, though both Commissioner Adam Silver and Nets owner Joe Tsai also released statements condemning the post. It’s fair to assume that the sports world will watch closely to see whether the league decides to address the issue in other ways. 

Inside the NBA’s coverage kicks off on Tuesdays on TNT at 7 p.m. ET as part of the 2022 TV schedule.

Erik Swann
Senior Content Producer

Covering superheroes, sci-fi, comedy, and almost anything else in film and TV. I eat more pizza than the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.