Irving declined to answer game-related questions Saturday after Brooklyn’s 105-91 victory over the Chicago Bulls and made multiple references to the ongoing violence between Israel and Palestine. “I’m not going to lie to you guys, a lot of stuff is going on in this world, and basketball is just not the most important thing to me right now,” Irving said. “There’s a lot of things going on overseas. All our people are still in bondage across the world, and there’s a lot of dehumanization going on.
“So I apologize if I’m not going to be focused on y’all’s questions. It’s just too much going on in the world for me to just be talking about basketball. I focus on this most of the time, 24/7, but it’s just too much going on in this world not to address. It’s just sad to see this s— going on. It’s not just in Palestine, not just in Israel. It’s all over the world, and I feel it. I’m very compassionate to it — to all races, all cultures and to see it, to see a lot of people being discriminated against, based on their religion, color of their skin, what they believe in. It’s just sad.” Israeli airstrikes on Gaza City flattened three buildings and killed at least 33 people Sunday, medics said, making it the deadliest single attack since heavy fighting broke out between Israel and the territory’s militant Hamas rulers nearly a week ago.
“I don’t care which way you stand on — either side,” Irving said. “If you’re a human being, then you support the anti-war effort. There’s a lot of people losing their lives — children, a lot of babies, and that’s just what I’m focused on. “So if you guys want to ask me questions about the game, I really don’t care about it except for everyone leaving the game healthy and being able to go home to their families.”
The NBA has apologized and removed wording from its website referring to “Palestine-occupied territory” on Friday after complaints by an Israeli minister. Israeli sports minister Miri Regev had sent a letter to NBA commissioner Adam Silver calling Palestine “an imaginary ‘state'” and asking for the reference to be removed from the league’s website.
“We do not produce the country listings for NBA.com, and as soon as we became aware of it, the site was updated,” NBA president for social responsibility Kathy Behrens said. “We apologize for this oversight and have corrected it.”
The Palestinians are trying to get it done under American coach Jerry Steele, a Phoenix-based Christian minister (and father of ESPN reporter Samantha Ponder) who’s totally at odds with the country’s basketball federation and is having impressive success in spite of all the obstacles with three wins in the first five games of the competition – including one vs. the Filipinos. Steele talked with HoopsHype about the craziness and the rewards that comes with coaching this overachieving group of players.
Jerry Steele: These young men have been told all of their lives that they can’t be like the rest of the world. Their government, their schools and even their elders in their families constantly remind them that they are an occupied people; that Israel keeps them from being able to do anything significant and that their main purpose in life is to get back at Israel.