There has been quite a public response to Kyrie Irving tweeting out a link to a movie containing strong antisemitic messaging. Yet there hasn't been much in the way of condemning Irving's statements from those around the league. The NBA and the NBAPA (Irving is a Vice President in the latter organization) released statements condemning antisemitism in any form but did not specify what they were talking about. The Nets did the same thing. Interestingly enough, the only individual near the situation who called out Irving by name was Joe Tsai, Irving's boss.
Other than Tsai, though, most have chosen to dance around who said what, exactly, and seem happy to release bland statements of support for the Jewish community. For a league filled with athletes who have been at the forefront of social justice movements in the country for a few years now, it feels quite disappointing that all of Irving's colleagues around the league have decided to avoid addressing his actions completely.
Reggie Miller gave voice to that disappointment during TNT's broadcast of Nets-Bulls last night. He said the players "dropped the ball" by staying quiet here and it is especially disappointing after those same players successfully pushed for Robert Sarver to sell the Suns by openly condemning the racist and sexist comments he made. As transcribed by the New York Post:
“In years past, this league has been great because the players have led the way and they have strong voices,” Miller said. “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,” Miller added. “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.”
Miller is spot-on here and it is good he voiced these thoughts on a national broadcast. Because boilerplate statements of apology aren't going to be enough when someone as famous as Irving is tweeting Holocaust denial movies to millions of people. It shouldn't matter that Irving is one of them. When shitty people say shitty things they should get called out for it.
The silence on the players' front was and remains deafening. It's a real shame that comments like these from Miller and the Inside The NBA guys is the only forward-facing defense against Irving the public has seen.