If there’s one thing that “free thinkers” like Aaron Rodgers and Kyrie Irving have shown us, it’s that for as much as they love to present their poorly presented arguments as undeniable facts, they bristle at even the slightest criticism of their unimpeachable intellect. ESPN reporter Nick Friedell showcased what happens when you not only push back on their misguided rhetoric but also stand your ground while they lose their cool.
Irving made headlines on Thursday when he shared a link with his massive Twitter and Instagram following to a 2018 movie titled Hebrews to Negroes: Wake Up Black America, a film that has been heavily criticized for containing antisemitic disinformation. Irving’s controversial post also comes after he amplified conspiracy theorist Alex Jones.
Irving was condemned and called out by many people in the sports community, including Nets broadcaster Richard Jefferson and team owner Joe Tsai.
Kyrie Irving addresses the backlash to his recent social media posts after Saturday night's game in Brooklyn. pic.twitter.com/tSuxGrNbbM
— YES Network (@YESNetwork) October 30, 2022
During Saturday night’s press conference after Brooklyn’s loss to the Indiana Pacers, a smug Irving explained his reasoning for posting the video and continuing to leave it up after he was heavily criticized, pushing back on Friedell as the reporter continued to ask the NBA star to explain why he stands by the offending posts. Irving went as far as to accuse Friedell of trying to “dehumanize” him with his line of questioning, and he eventually tried to shut down the reporter instead of answering the fundamental question of why he is keeping up the posts.
Kyrie is like most faux intellectuals. They don’t read, so their whole mantra is rooted in YouTube clips. They don’t explain the things they say because their attitude is based on the idea that they speak and others listen. They don’t want dialogue because they’re not good at it.
— Myron Medcalf (@MedcalfByESPN) October 30, 2022
While Irving certainly appears to feel like he came away as the victor here, many in the sports media world rallied around Friedell afterward, sharing their appreciation for the reporter’s ability to ask tough questions, maintain civility, and continue the attempt to get simple answers in spite of Irving’s obfuscation.
Proud of my friend @NickFriedell.
All of us – journalists, athletes, folks in every walk of life – promote stuff every day by posting it. If u can’t defend it or explain it that’s on YOU, not the person asking u about it.
Kyrie shrugging off his influence/platform is insulting.
— Sarah Spain (@SarahSpain) October 30, 2022
Tremendous by @NickFriedell. Didn’t budge one single inch. Kept his cool. Kept it specific. Kept it civil. Watch a pro work. https://t.co/CvK5jNyC2E
— Bill Oram (@billoram) October 30, 2022
NBA drama is FAN-tastic! Great job by Nick Friedell here. Kyrie Irving has some odd takes and does some strange stuff, but playing the “you’re only doing this to make yourself famous” card is a particularly weak deflection to avoid addressing the anti-Semitism issue. https://t.co/yf3kinUEyC
— Mark Potash (@MarkPotash) October 30, 2022
Good for @NickFriedell. Kyrie Irving either has absolutely no idea how much damage he can cause with his platform or just doesn’t care. Honestly not sure which is worse. But shame on all of us for continuing to give him an inflated sense of self-importance.pic.twitter.com/G3Se10z6s9
— Adam Kaufman (@AdamMKaufman) October 30, 2022
Absolute shoutout to @NickFriedell for holding firm here. https://t.co/GvWfzBFFDc
— Sopan Deb (@SopanDeb) October 30, 2022
Man good for @NickFriedell.
I hope that clip is shown in journalism classes around the country.
It’s one thing to ask a tough question. It’s another to stand your ground and push back, follow up again and again.
— Micah Adams (@MicahAdams13) October 30, 2022
Already had so much respect for @NickFriedell, but this is just a master class in how to be civil and professional as you’re lectured to and mocked by a faux intellectual who’s avoiding your questions.
Nick did a fantastic job. https://t.co/ObgvzbGcTd
— Randy Scott (@RandyScottESPN) October 30, 2022
Kyrie refuses to answer questions about posting anti-Semitic material. as reporters, people who are guilty try to attack us for asking legitimate questions. good job standing tall @NickFriedell. https://t.co/bSk2VGP9IB
— Jesse Washington (@jessewashington) October 30, 2022
The journalist is @NickFriedell. Thank you for doing your job
— Kendall Baker (@kendallbaker) October 30, 2022
Both Irving and Friedell appear to be moving on based on their Sunday tweets, though it doesn’t sound like the Nets star will be changing his stances anytime soon.
The NBA has released a vague statement against antisemitism without naming Irving, something they were criticized for. But if Irving continued to peddle this kind of rhetoric, it’s hard to imagine they’ll stand pat. It’s even harder to imagine that other reporters aren’t going to take Friedell’s lead and continue asking Kyrie tough questions, whether he likes it or not.