As the NBA regular season comes to a close and the playoffs on the horizon, Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving has other stuff on his mind.
Following the Nets’ 105-91 win over the Bulls, Irving — who was fined last week for repeated failure to meet with the media — told reporters his focus is not really on basketball at the moment, pointing to crises around the world, such as the Israel-Palestine conflict.
“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,” he said, per ESPN. “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 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—t going on. It’s no 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.”
Irving was asked about the challenge he has balancing basketball and social issues.
"It's a job," he said. "I was raised as a survivor. My family comes from practically the bottom in the South Bronx. They came out of some extreme conditions. I'm the product of a lot of sacrifice. ... It's a unique balance because you're on a platform or industry that -- a lot of people that are around it or surviving it don't really get a chance to say what they believe in, or they have to play it safe, or they have to worry about money, or they have to worry about what people are saying.
"I just think you can't be afraid to say what you believe in. It's not about consuming information or trying to be right or politically correct. It's about doing what God intends us all to do -- that's to stand on the good word of treating everyone with respect, compassion and love."
The Nets entered Sunday with a chance to secure the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference with a win over the Cavs, as Irving, James Harden and Kevin Durant all finally appear to be healthy and playing at the same time.