“Now We’ve Got To Answer For What This Idiot Has Done” | Are Shannon Sharpe, Shaq, And Barkley “Sellouts” For Speaking Out Against Kyrie Irving?

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - APRIL 12: Kyrie Irving #11 of the Brooklyn Nets looks on during the second half of the Eastern Conference 2022 Play-In Tournament against the Cleveland Cavaliers at Barclays Center on April 12, 2022 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. The Nets won 115-108. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)

Shannon Sharpe went on the offensive against the polarizing stance of Kyrie Irving when he posted a link to a documentary that reportedly contains anti-Semitic rhetoric. For many viewers, Sharpe’s viewpoint on Irving was a dog whistle for being a “sellout” or going along with the agenda of the network he works for, Fox Sports.

“I think a part of this is, ‘I’m trying to challenge the establishment because they’ve been telling us things that through my studies are not true.’ But you can’t say an entire race or an entire group, say an individual because there are good in every group; there is bad in every group. But you cannot encompass an entire race of people. You can’t say the Holocaust it didn’t happen; if it did it might not be that bad. You can’t start equating tragedy, well 300 million of my people are buried here in slavery; well the Holocaust but what about slavery, what about what Stalin did in the Ukraine — come on bruh!”

To which “Undisputed” co-host Skip Bayless responded, “You can’t go there. You can’t say, my group was more persecuted than your group,” said Bayless. “Don’t even start because you’ll never finish.”

Sharpe co-signed and much more after Irving issued an apology for the post.

“Is it genuine? I don’t know, how do we ever know what’s in someone’s heart, do they really sincerely apologize? I don’t believe Kyrie would have ever apologized if the Brooklyn Nets don’t suspend Kyrie. He never said I’m sorry; he’s like, ‘I take responsibility.’ Taking responsibility is not an apology. Changed behavior is the greatest apology, but it cannot start without saying I’m sorry. No apology can begin without ‘I’m sorry.'”

Shaq and Charles Barkley also had their take on Irving and the NBA’s handling of the situation.

O’Neal and Barkley shared their thoughts on Irving’s situation during Tuesday’s “Inside the NBA” segment.

“You have to be aware of what you’re doing,” O’Neal said of Irving’s sharing on social media with no context. “You must be aware that sometimes when you put stuff out, not everybody will like it. Some people are conscious; some people are not. I can tell he’s not conscious — he doesn’t really care what’s going on.

“The game that we love, that we promote, it brings people together. It hurts me sometimes when we have to sit up here and talk about stuff that divides the game. Now we’ve got to answer for what this idiot has done.”

The always outspoken Barkley also weighed in on the program.

“I think the NBA dropped the ball. I think he should’ve been suspended,” Barkley said. “They made a mistake. We have suspended people and fined people who have made homophobic slurs, and that was the right thing to do. If you insult the Black community, you should be suspended or fined heavily.”

The Brooklyn Nets suspended Kyrie Irving for at least five games without pay on Thursday after being dismayed by his repeated failure to “unequivocally say he has no anti-Semitic beliefs,” according to a statement from the team. Barkley felt that the move should have happened more immediately.

“It’s too late now,” he said of the discipline Irving didn’t face yet. “The NBA’s giving in to peer pressure. If one of our players does something, the team or the league has to do something immediately. … This should’ve been handled already.”

As former athletes and Black men, should Sharpe, O’Neal, and Barkley side with Irving and be more understanding of his decision to speak his truth amid the scrutiny as a professional athlete? Many believe that even if their beliefs differ from Irving’s, his public excoriation by his former athletic peers and cultural cohorts should be behind closed dorrs and not used for broadcast fodder.

Rhett Butler is a Boxing Writer Association of America Journalist, Play-By-Play Commentator, Combat Sports Insider, and Former Mixed Martial Arts and Boxing Promoter. The New York City native honed his skills at various news outlets including but not limited to: TIME Magazine, Money Magazine, CNN's Wolf Blitzer Reports, and more. Rhett hosts the PRITTY Left Hook podcast, a polarizing combat sports insider's take featuring the world's biggest names.