New Orleans Pelicans guard and NBPA President C.J. McCollum has aired his sentiments on the ongoing league fiasco starring Kyrie Irving.
Speaking for the first time after the sprouting of Irving’s antisemitic controversy, McCollum believes that the All-Star guard gained a “learning experience” about his actions and its consequences.
“I think the important part was he did apologize,” McCollum said, referring to the apology posted by Irving via Instagram (h/t Andrew Lopez of ESPN).
“He’s displayed empathy now. I think this is a learning experience in which I don’t think he understood the magnitude of the movie because he didn’t watch it. I don’t think he understood the magnitude of the people that were affected, how they were impacted and how fast hate can spread and how this can snowball.”
The regret he informed via social media just only came from days of questionable hesitancy to deliver his sincerest apology to the Jewish community.
Irving started his very own flak after promoting to his Twitter the “Hebrews to “Negroes: Wake Up Black America,” a 2018 film based on a 2015 book by the same name, which was flagged for containing antisemitic tropes and themes. Amid the raucous condemnation from various league circles, Irving found it hard to owe his wrongdoings.
And when granted the chance by the Brooklyn Nets to air his apology, Irving fumbled and only has taken the responsibility of what he did. In such dismay, the franchise slapped him for at least five games and must complete “a series of objective remedial measures that address the harmful impact of his conduct.”
“It’s safe to say that we know that Kyrie and all of us — me specifically, I can speak for myself — specifically condemn antisemitism in any form,” McCollum said. “I am specifically against it. I specifically believe in promoting equality, diversity of inclusion.”
The Nets, for its part, specifically gave Irving six conditions that he has to fulfill in order to make a comeback on his team activities. Actions involve condemning the movie he shared, participation from sensitivity training, coordinating with Jewish leaders and having a meeting with team owner Joe Tsai to locate common ground.
Due to what happened, McCollum is hoping that this issue with Irving, one of the NBPA’s vice presidents, will teach fellow players to responsibly use their platforms as sports figures.
“The important thing to learn about this situation is you have a platform. You have to be careful with how you use it,” he said. “You have to vet everything you post. I think this is a situation we can all use as a learning experience for all of us as players. … You have to be careful with what you’re posting.
“You have to know exactly what it is, and you have to research and educate yourself on all religions and all backgrounds and all races so that you are comfortable speaking to that. I think this is an unfortunate situation where a lot of people were affected and a lot of people were harmed by this. It was tough.”