ESPN host Stephen A. Smith launched a tirade during Friday’s broadcast
of “First Take,” agreeing with LeBron James and saying that a
suspension of “at least five games” for Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie
Irving was “excessive.”
Smith took the assessment a bit further, however, saying that the
suspension — which came about because Irving tweeted a clip from a film
rife with anti-semitic tropes (“Hebrews to Negroes: Wake Up Black
America”) — was akin to people “trying to put their knee and keep their
knee on Kyrie’s neck.”
Irving initially refused to apologize, which led to the suspension, but
offered an apology after he was suspended. “To all the Jewish families
and communities that are hurt and affected from my post, I am deeply
sorry to have caused you pain, and I apologize.”
And Smith argued that if NBA Commissioner Adam Silver — who is Jewish —
could say that he didn’t believe Irving was anti-semitic, that should
be the end of it.
“We got riots that took place in the streets a couple of years ago. And
I told everyone back then; I said when George Floyd had that knee on
his neck, what people didn’t get, outside of the black community, is
that black folks were going off because we were saying from a
figurative perspective, from a metaphorical perspective, we always feel
like we got a knee on our neck,” Smith claimed. “And that’s where the
frustration and the fulminant of vitriol and hostility and, dare I say;
violence came shining through.”
Smith went on to draw a line from what happened to George Floyd — when
he was killed in the custody of former Minneapolis police officer Derek
Chauvin — to the way the team was treating Irving.
“So here we are again. Now, this doesn’t have anything to do with that
in a literal perspective, but this is somebody or a bunch of people out
there trying to put their knee and keep their knee on Kyrie’s neck.
Kyrie does not deserve that,” Smith continued. “He made a mistake. He
made a mistake; he had to apologize for it. He’s been embarrassed
because of it. He’s cost himself money because of it. He’s been
suspended because of it.”
Smith then argued that there were racial implications to Irving’s
suspension as well, suggesting that if Irving was white, his suspension
might have a definitive end point.
America don't think I haven't noticed what you have done!
Let Kyrie go back and play! #KyrieIrving #lethimplay #FirstTake
— Stephen A Smith (@stephenasmith) November 11, 2022
Let's go Brandon!