New Orleans Pelicans guard and NBA Players Association president CJ McCollum condemned anti-Semitism while discussing a recent situation involving Brooklyn Nets guard Keri Irving.
ESPN reporter Andrew Lopez made the comments after the New Orleans game against the Atlanta Hawks on Saturday night.
“It’s safe to say that we know that Kerry and we all — me specifically, I can speak for myself — specifically condemn anti-Semitism in any way,” McCollum said. “I am specifically against it. I especially believe in promoting equality and diversity inclusion.”
Irving, vice president of the players’ union, posted a link on social media to an anti-Semitic film on October 27. Then he waited six days – including multiple combative interactions with the press – before he apologized in a statement on Instagram. Irving’s apology came Thursday night, hours after the Brooklyn Nets suspended him for at least five games.
“I think the important part is that he apologized,” McCollum said, referring to the apology Irving posted on Instagram hours after being commented by the Brooklyn Nets.
“He showed empathy now. I think this is a learning experience in which I don’t think he understood the scale of the movie because he hadn’t seen it. I don’t think he understood the scale of people affected, how they were affected and how hate can spread so quickly and how this can multiply.”
McCollum described the situation as “unfortunate,” but also a learning moment for other NBA players in terms of social media.
“The important thing to know about this situation is that you have a platform. You have to be careful how you use it,” he said. “You have to check 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 what you post.
“You have to know exactly what it is, and you have to research and educate yourself about all religions, all backgrounds, all races so that you feel comfortable talking to that. I think this is an unfortunate situation where so many people have been affected and so many people have been harmed because of this. It has been difficult.”
McCollum’s comments are noteworthy because most NBA players have been silent regarding the situation. Also, the NBAPA was heavily criticized for its initial statement on the situation, which condemned anti-Semitism, but failed to mention Irving by name.
McCollum said he waited until now to speak because he wanted to gather more information, similar to how he waited to discuss an investigation into Robert Sarver’s ownership of the Phoenix Suns.
“I’ve had backstage conversations similar to what I’m having now,” McCollum said. “I’m talking to the league. I’m talking to people in positions of power. I’m talking to people of Jewish descent to get more information and more knowledge personally.
“This is an ongoing situation, so I don’t feel comfortable talking to certain things yet because I didn’t feel comfortable talking to certain things about Sarver because I was still gathering information and they were still deliberating about decisions to make.”
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