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Charles Barkley wants Kyrie Irving to “shut the hell up” and talk basketball.
Irving, the Nets’ star point guard, recently threatened to boycott talking to the media, instead releasing statements through a PR person or on social media. He and the Nets were both fined $25,000 for breaking the NBA’s media rules and Irving did speak with reporters on Monday.
Barkley went off on Irving during an appearance on ESPN’s “Keyshawn, JWill & Zubin” show Thursday morning for thinking he could skirt his media responsibilities and his overall approach.
“They don’t pay you $40 million just to play basketball. Part of it is sitting down with you guys, sitting down with me and Kenny [Smith] and Ernie [Johnson] and [Shaquille O’Neal], talking to New York reporters,” Barkley said. “Being with the media is part of your professional obligation, and you can say what you want to say. But these guys today, they’re different. I don’t hate on them, but I’m not sure what point Kyrie is trying to make.”
Barkley went on to talk about how he is confused over what Irving is actually trying to say. Irving seemingly called the media “pawns” in an Instagram post and said when speaking to the media that it was about “the mistreatment of certain artists when we get to a platform of when we make decisions within our lives to have full control and ownership.”
Barkley wasn’t having it.
“He starts talking about what an artist is,” the TNT analyst said. “He’s a basketball player. That’s what he is. Listen, we’re not front-line responders. We’re not teachers. Yo man, you dribble a basketball, stop acting like you’re the smartest person in the world.
“Now can you talk about social issues and things like that? Of course. But some of this other stuff, I’m like ‘Yo, man, you do realize you’re just a basketball player, right?’ And it seems like he’s like, ‘No, I want you guys to know I’m the smartest guy in the room.’ Well, first of all, you’re not. You only went to college for six months. A lot of guys are smarter than you are. Just answer stupid basketball questions. And if you want to say something about social justice, say it and mean it, because it’s important and significant. But all that other stuff? Like, yo, man, shut the hell up and talk basketball.”
Irving, 28, is in his second season with the Nets. His first one was cut short by a shoulder injury, but he is healthy now and finally teamed with Kevin Durant as the Nets look to be NBA championship contenders.
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