Stephen A. Smith says people are trying to 'keep their knee on Kyrie's neck' as Nets suspension continues

Stephen A. Smith says people are trying to ‘keep their knee on Kyrie’s neck’ as Nets suspension continues

Kyrie Irving’s suspension for share an antisemitic film on social media drew a strong reaction from many in the NBA community.

Thursday, Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James took to Twitter in support of Irving, saying the seven-time All-Star should be allowed to return to the field after he apologized to the Jewish community following his “at least five game” suspension.

Kyrie Irving of the Brooklyn Nets dribbles during a game against the Dallas Mavericks on October 27, 2022 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

Kyrie Irving of the Brooklyn Nets dribbles during a game against the Dallas Mavericks on October 27, 2022 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
(Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)

James also said the steps Irving had to take before he could return to the ground were “excessive”.

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Those steps would have included taking anti-Semitic/anti-hate training and sitting down with representatives of the Anti-Defamation League and leaders of Brooklyn’s Jewish community.

ESPN analyst Stephen A. Smith, who earlier in the week said the list of conditions was “emasculating,” doubled down on his support for Irving on Friday, saying people should show compassion and forgiveness for Irving after his apology.

“We had riots that took place in the streets a few years ago, and I told everyone that at the time,” Smith said Friday on ESPN’s “First Take,” according to Nets. Wire. “I said when George Floyd had that knee on his neck, what people didn’t understand outside of the black community was that black people were leaving because we were saying from a point of view figuratively, from a metaphorical point of view, we always feel like we have a knee on our neck.

ESPN analyst Stephen A. Smith reports on the 2022 NBA Draft on June 23, 2022 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY

ESPN analyst Stephen A. Smith reports on the 2022 NBA Draft on June 23, 2022 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY
(Kostas Lymperopoulos/NBAE via Getty Images)

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“And that’s where the frustration and fomentation of vitriol and hostility, and dare I say violence, came in.”

NBA commissioner Adam Silver met with Irving earlier in the week and left the meeting convinced that Irving is not anti-Semitic.

Smith said Friday that Silver’s thoughts after their encounter should be enough for Irving to return to the field.

“And here we are again,” Smith added. “Now it has nothing to do with it from a literal perspective, but it’s someone, or a group of people trying to put their knee and keep their knee on Kyrie’s neck.

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Kyrie Irving of the Brooklyn Nets scores during the fourth quarter of a game against the Indiana Pacers at Barclays Center on October 31, 2022 in New York City.

Kyrie Irving of the Brooklyn Nets scores during the fourth quarter of a game against the Indiana Pacers at Barclays Center on October 31, 2022 in New York City.
(Dustin Satloff/Getty Images)

“Kyrie doesn’t deserve this. He made a mistake. He made a mistake. He had to apologize. He was embarrassed because of it, he cost himself money because of it, he was suspended because of it. But if Adam Silver, the commissioner of the NBA, who is a Jewish man, comes out publicly and acknowledges (Irving) made a mistake, he was wrong, and he thinks the suspension and the conversations have done a lot to push this forward, the Jewish community should be able to accept this.”

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The National Basketball Players Association told its members on Friday that Irving had recently spoken with team, league and union officials and hoped for a resolution “very soon,” according to an email obtained by ESPN.

There’s “no momentum” for Irving to get back to the ground on the Nets’ next four-game road trip that ends at the Portland Trail Blazers on Nov. 17, according to ESPN.

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