Monday, November 28, 2022

Ariel Helwani Tackles The Kyrie Irving Controversy

Ariel Helwani has weighed-in on the recent controversy regarding Kyrie Irving’s apparent endorsement of a strongly anti-Semitic film.

The NBA star has established himself as an outspoken and occasionally controversial figure during his basketball career, and most recently Irving made headlines for posting a link to the 2018 film Hebrews to Negroes: Wake Up Black America on his Twitter account.

Irving drew immediate criticism for posting the link to his 4.5 million followers. Helwani recently discussed the idea of leaving the social media app for unrelated reasons, but he did use the platform to share some thoughts on a video of the NBA star avoiding questions following a recent Brooklyn Nets game.

“Same old story. These cowards know exactly what they are posting/saying. They get called out, feign ignorance and then get defensive. We see you. We hear you. We know exactly what you are saying and doing. We also represent .2% of the world? What are you so worried about?”

Helwani was later asked for his thoughts on the situation during the Q&A portion of his show The MMA Hour. Speaking as a member of the Jewish community, the MMA journalist began by noting the apparent trend of anti-Semitism that is appearing in American pop culture through figures such as Kanye West before sharing his thoughts on Irving’s post.

“It enters the sports world, and you see someone like Kyrie Irving, who – I think the best way to describe Kyrie is a faux-intellectual, someone who thinks he is so well-versed on so many complex things, when in reality time and again he does a great job of exposing the fact that he is not as smart as he thinks he is. Or maybe, he looks for his answers in the wrong places.”

“By Posting This You Are Endorsing It”

Among other things, Hebrews to Negroes: Wake Up Black America claims that Jews were significantly involved in the African slave trade and are also the controlling force behind the world’s major media outlets.

After applauding Pablo Torre’s statements on the film as well as the unfiltered comments made by “Inside the NBA” analysts and NBA legends Charles Barkley and Shaquille O’Neil, Helwani acknowledged the argument that criticism should also be directed at Amazon Prime for carrying the film.

While the multiple-time MMA Journalist of the Year admits that any platform hosting content that promotes misinformation and hatred should be held accountable, he also argued that dealing with individuals that promote such content is an entirely separate issue.

“They always like to change the conversation whenever they are presented with a counter argument or a reason as to why they are in the wrong,” Helwani explained. “And so this is what’s happening now with Kyrie Irving, because he posts that and then he sits there on the dais when a great reporter like Nick Friedell asks him ‘Why are you promoting this?’ And then he starts playing this game where he’s questioning the word promotion, not understanding that by posting this you are endorsing it. You are saying that you like this. And then maybe even want other people to watch it, and are trying to tell them that the stuff in there is stuff that you believe in.”

Shaquille O’Neil (far left) and Charles Barkley (far right) were among those that openly criticized Irving’s post. (TNT)

At the end of the day Helwani isn’t looking for Irving to be punished, but he does hope that the NBA star makes an effort to better educate himself and also understand how his fans are likely influenced by what’s posted on his social media.

“I don’t subscribe to cancel culture, I don’t subscribe to any type of nonsense like that. I subscribe to accountability, and knowing that there are repercussions for posting stupid shit…Kyrie is embarrassing himself, he’s embarrassing the NBA, he’s embarrassing the Brooklyn Nets, and this whole situation is a total mess. And for him not to take any kind of accountability and not to at least apologize for being uninformed – that’s all people want… No one wants Kyrie to be canceled, or punish, or shipped out. No one’s asking for that, we just want people to be informed, we just want people to be smart, we just want people to not spew this nonsense and hatred.”

Helwani Reacts To Irving’s Suspension

Even if Helwani didn’t necessarily want Irving to be punished, the Brooklyn Nets decided that further action was necessary following the star’s apparent unwillingness to acknowledge any sort of wrongdoing.

The team issued a statement on the situation that indicated there were repeated attempts to make Irving understand the potential harm caused by his promotion of the film. The fact that Irving failed to concretely say he held no anti-Semitic beliefs when asked during a recent press conference was apparently the final straw, and the team decided to suspend the 30-year-old.

Shortly after the announcement was made public, Helwani applauded the swift action taken by the Nets organization following Irving’s failure to apologize in any meaningful capacity.

“Strong statement from the Nets. Nice to see that they, too, thought Kyrie’s media session was a disappointing as the rest of us.”

The specific language of the statement declares that Irving is currently “unfit to be associated with the Brooklyn Nets” and will miss at least five games pending his completion of “remedial measures that address the harmful impact of his conduct.”

What do you think of Helwani’s comments about Irving’s post and his subsequent suspension?