Kyrie Irving

Charles Barkley Says NBA Should Have Suspended Kyrie Irving for Social Media Posts

"I think the NBA dropped the ball," Barkley said

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Hall of Famer Charles Barkley criticized the NBA for its handling of the Kyrie Irving situation.

Ahead of TNT's broadcast of the Chicago Bulls versus Brooklyn Nets game on Tuesday, Barkley said the league should have suspended Irving for his promotion of an antisemitic film on social media.

"I think the NBA dropped the ball," Barkley said. "I think he should have been suspended. I think [commissioner Adam Silver] should have suspended him. First of all, Adam's Jewish. ... You're gonna insult me, you have the right. But I have the right to say, 'No, you're not gonna take my $40 million and insult my religion.'

"I think the NBA made a mistake. We have suspended and fined people who have made homophobic slurs, and that was the right thing to do. I think if you insult the Black community, you should be suspended or fined heavily. I saw they did the same thing with [Minnesota Timberwolves guard Anthony Edwards] when he made the gay slur. I think you should get suspended or fined. [Irving] acknowledging the Alex Jones thing, something should have happened with that, too, cause that dude's crazy."

"I can't believe that we ain't talking about basketball," Barkley added. "We're talking about this idiot."

Last Thursday, Irving posted a since-deleted tweet of an Amazon Prime Video link to the film "Hebrews to Negroes: Wake Up Black America." He also shared a screenshot of the film's Amazon page on his Instagram Story.

The film is based on a 2015 book with the same title and, as Rolling Stone detailed, both are "stuffed with antisemitic tropes."

The Nets condemned Irving's social media posts on Friday, with owner Joe Tsai adding that he was "disappointed" in the point guard.

Irving's first public comments regarding the posts came on Saturday when he tweeted that he "meant no disrespect to anyone's religious beliefs." Then, after Brooklyn's loss to the Indiana Pacers later that day, Irving further defended the posts during a combative postgame media session.

"I'm not here to argue over a person or a culture or a religion and what they believe," Irving said, via ESPN. "Nah, this is what's here. It's on a public platform. Did I do anything illegal? Did I hurt anybody? Did I harm anybody? Am I going out and saying that I hate one specific group of people? So out of all of the judgment that people got for me posting, without talking to me, and then I respect what Joe [Tsai] said, but there has a lot to do with not ego or pride of how proud I am to be [of] African heritage, but also to be living as a free Black man here in America, knowing the historical complexities for me to get here.

"So I'm not going to stand down on anything that I believe in. I'm only going to get stronger because I'm not alone. I have a whole army around me."

The point guard also had a heated exchange with a reporter when asked about his recent sharing of an old video from conspiracy theorist Alex Jones.

Irving, who deleted his controversial tweet on Sunday, has not been disciplined for his social media activity. He's played in all four of Brooklyn's games since making the posts. At Monday's home game versus the Pacers, several fans seated courtside wore "Fight Antisemitism" shirts.

Nets general manager Sean Marks said on Tuesday the Nets organization is in contact with the Anti-Defamation League regarding the "best course of action" with Irving.

Barkley, however, believes it's "too late" for a punishment to be handed down.

"The reason it's too late -- the NBA is giving in to peer pressure," Barkley said. "If one of our players does something, the team or the league has to do something immediately. If you just give in to peer pressure, that's the problem I have. This should have been handled already."

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