The BDN Opinion section operates independently and does not set newsroom policies or contribute to reporting or editing articles elsewhere in the newspaper or on bangordailynews.com.
Leonard Greene is a columnist for the New York Daily News.
So, I’m reading a book about Jackie Robinson — “True: The Four Seasons of Jackie Robinson,” by Kostya Kennedy — and I’m thinking about all the sacrifices he made and all he had to endure so that athletes like Kyrie Irving could have a place in professional sports.
And, I find that as much as I am bothered by what Irving tweeted and his reluctance to apologize for his hurtful social media post, I am more outraged by his teammate, and the cluelessness he displayed in addressing the situation.
Kevin Durant is one of the greatest players to ever touch a basketball. But here is why he will always be a bus rider.
It’s not because he jumped on the Golden State bandwagon, or played with the Super Friends in Brooklyn.
It’s because of this right here:
“I ain’t here to judge nobody or talk down on nobody for how they feel, their views or anything,” Durant said at practice Friday, a day after Irving was suspended for tweeting a link to a movie with antisemitic messages.
“It’s just … I just didn’t like anything that went on. I feel like it was all unnecessary. I felt like we could have just kept playing basketball and kept quiet as an organization. I just don’t like none of it.”
We should have just kept playing basketball, Durant said.
We should have kept quiet as an organization, Durant said.
You know who says things like that?
Silence may be golden in some circles, but it is deadly in others.
It’s silence that allows racism and bigotry to flourish.
It’s silence that allows the bullies to prosper, and the weak to get stepped on.
It’s silence, teamed with willful ignorance, that allows people to mistakenly believe that all speech is free, that there is no price to pay for hurt and hate.
“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter,” Martin Luther King Jr. once said.
He also said this: “History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people.”
The Brooklyn Nets ultimately suspended Irving for at least five games without pay for the tweet and his stubborn insistence in defending it. The team said Irving was “currently unfit to be associated with the Brooklyn Nets.”
Irving eventually relented and said he was sorry, but it was kind of like an apology parents get from a grounded teenage girl after they take away her phone.
Sneaker giant Nike suspended its relationship with Irving too.
As for Durant, he tried to clarify his comments later on Twitter.
“I see some people are confused,” Durant wrote. “I don’t condone hate speech or anti-semitism, I’m about spreading love always. Our game Unites people and I wanna make sure that’s at the forefront.”
There’s nothing in Durant’s contract that says he has to speak out on social issues. Michael Jordan got away for years with just being able to shut up and dribble.
If silence works for Durant, then that’s his thing. But he has no right to expect those around him, particularly an organization — in Brooklyn of all places — to be silent, too.