LeBron James shared his thoughts on the controversy surrounding his former teammate Kyrie Irving on Friday night following the Los Angeles Lakers’ 130-116 loss to the Utah Jazz.
Irving has been in the headlines after posting a Twitter link to a documentary featuring antisemitic material. He was recently suspended by the Brooklyn Nets after refusing to condemn the contents of the film.
James won a championship with Irving in Cleveland and delivered a very firm stance on the issue.
“It’s simple. Me, personally, I don’t condone any hate to any kinds, any race, to Jewish communities, to Black communities, to Asian communities. You guys know where I stand,” James said. ” … I believe what Kyrie did caused some harm to a lot of people. He has since, over the last — today, or was it yesterday — he apologized. But he caused some harm, and I think it’s unfortunate.
“I don’t stand on the position to harm people when it comes to your voice or your platform or anything. So it doesn’t matter what color your skin is, how tall you are, what position you’re in — if you are promoting or soliciting or saying harmful things to any community that harm people, then I don’t respect it. I don’t condone it.”
Lakers Were Linked to Irving This Offseason
Irving’s future with the Nets and in the NBA is uncertain amid the drama and James hopes that his former teammates understands the weight of his actions.
“I don’t know the direction, the steps that he takes, but he’s apologized for what he said and I hope that he understands that what he said was harmful to a lot of people,” James said on Friday. “And we as humans, none of us are perfect, but I hope he understands what he did and the actions that he took are just harmful to a lot of people.”
The Lakers were linked to Irving this offseason in a potential trade that would have reunited him with James. However, LA — like Brooklyn — was not sold on giving Irving a long-term extension, per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
“I think it speaks to what happened last summer when Brooklyn was resistant to giving Kyrie Irving a long-term, guaranteed contract,” Wojnarowski said. “So were the Lakers in a sign-and-trade scenario with Brooklyn.
“Kyrie Irving is back right where he was this summer, which is having to prove himself. Prove that he can be trusted. Prove that he’s be a good faith partner for an NBA team, whether it’s Brooklyn or elsewhere in the league.”
Irving’s Relationship With Nike Suspended
Irving’s losses from the situation continue to grow, with Nike announcing that they were suspending their relationship with the seven-time All-Star.
“At Nike, we believe there is no place for hate speech and we condemn any form of antisemitism,” Nike said in a statement. “To that end, we’ve made the decision to suspend our relationship with Kyrie Irving effective immediately and will no longer launch the Kyrie 8. We are deeply saddened and disappointed by the situation and its impact on everyone.”
The Nets have said they are not currently considering releasing Irving, who has since issued an apology via social media.