Kyrie Irving

CJ McCollum: Hope NBA Players Learn From Kyrie Irving Fallout

New Orleans Pelicans guard CJ McCollum, who serves as the president of the National Basketball Players Association, said Kyrie Irving’s social media post about an antisemitic film and the controversy that ensued can be used as a teaching moment for all players.

As reported by ESPN, McCollum made his first public statements on Irving on Saturday night following the Pelicans’ loss to the Atlanta Hawks.

“I think the important part was he did apologize,” McCollum said, referencing the apology Irving posted on Instagram hours after he was suspended by the Brooklyn Nets.

“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.”

In his apology Thursday night, Irving wrote that the movie he had posted about “contained some false anti-Semitic statements, narratives, and language that were untrue and offensive to the Jewish Race/Religion,” adding that he took full responsibility for the post.

“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.”

McCollum said he had been in conversations with the league throughout the process since Irving’s post went up. He also said he hadn’t issued a statement about it as NBPA president because he was still in the process of gathering information, much in the same way he didn’t make a statement on owner Robert Sarver and the allegations of racism and misogyny within the Phoenix Suns until after Sarver said he was going to sell the team.

“I had conversations behind the scenes similar to what I’m having now,” McCollum said. “I’m speaking to the league. I’m speaking to people in positions in power. I’m speaking to people with a Jewish background to gain more information, more knowledge personally.

“This is an ongoing situation, so I don’t feel comfortable speaking to certain things yet as I didn’t feel comfortable speaking to certain things regarding Sarver because I was still gathering information and they were still deliberating on what decisions to be made.”

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