Charles Barkley weighs in on Kyrie Irving, does not want anyone ‘canceled’

As the NBA world waits for the Brooklyn Nets to announce if and when Kyrie Irving will return from his suspension, many are speaking out in support of Irving’s return as the suspension for sharing an antisemitic film on social media has become indefinite. 

Last week, Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James voiced his opinion, saying the seven-time All-Star should be allowed to return to the court after apologizing to the Jewish community following his suspension of “at least five games.”

Kyrie Irving #11 of the Brooklyn Nets dribbles the ball during the game against the Dallas Mavericks on October 27, 2022 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. 

Kyrie Irving #11 of the Brooklyn Nets dribbles the ball during the game against the Dallas Mavericks on October 27, 2022 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. 
(Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)

NBA Hall of Famer Charles Barkley also believes Irving should be allowed to return to the court while supporting the Nets’ decision to suspend the seven-time All-Star.  

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“People have the right to feel and say what they want to,” Barkley said on CNN. “We have freedom of speech, but there are repercussions when you say certain things. 

“I don’t know Kyrie Irving. I don’t know if he’s a good guy or a bad guy. I think he’s been suspended – rightfully so – and I think he should come back and play in the NBA. 

While Barkley believes that Irving should be allowed to return to the basketball court, he also noted that “free speech” does not come without consequences. 

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“This thing with free speech has really gotten out of hand, Don [Lemon],” Barkley said. “You can’t just go around insulting people just because it’s freedom of speech.”  

Charles Barkley attends HBO Premiere For Four-Part Documentary “SHAQ” at Illuminarium on November 14, 2022 in Atlanta, Georgia. 
(Paras Griffin/Getty Images for HBO)

When asked by Lemon if this constituted “cancel culture,” Barkley pushed back on the term. 

“I don’t like using the term ‘cancel culture’ because I don’t want anyone canceled,” Barkley responded. “But you should be called to the carpet if you said something wrong. I don’t believe somebody should lose their job or things like that. But you should be called out of you said something stupid.”

“I’ve been called out many times and I have no problem with that. But I hate the term ‘cancel culture’ because very few people are canceled.”

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The Nets have reportedly required Irving to complete six tasks before he’s able to return to the court. 

Kyrie Irving #11 of the Brooklyn Nets points during the fourth quarter of the game against the Indiana Pacers at Barclays Center on October 31, 2022 in New York City.  

Kyrie Irving #11 of the Brooklyn Nets points during the fourth quarter of the game against the Indiana Pacers at Barclays Center on October 31, 2022 in New York City.  
(Dustin Satloff/Getty Images)

Those steps reportedly include completing antisemitic/anti-hate training and sitting down with representatives from the Anti-Defamation League and Jewish community leaders in Brooklyn.

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Last week, the National Basketball Players Association told its members Irving has spoken with team, league, and union officials recently and is hoping for a resolution “very soon,” according to an email obtained by ESPN.

It was also reported that there is “no momentum” for Irving to return to the floor during the Nets’ four-game road trip, which concludes at the Portland Trail Blazers Nov. 17.

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