NBA superstar Kyrie Irving is getting paid north of $33 million to play for the Brooklyn Nets this season.
And with fellow superstar teammates James Harden and Kevin Durant also making a killing in the hopes of taking the Nets all the way to the NBA championship next month, one might think the Brooklyn brass is assuming Irving has his game in the forefront of his mind.
What is more important than basketball right now to Irving?
After the Nets' 105-91 win over the Chicago Bulls on Saturday, Irving said basketball wasn't quite hitting his radar at the moment, ESPN reported. Irving scored 22 points in the Nets' win.
"I'm not going to lie to you guys, a lot of stuff is going on in this world, and basketball is just not the most important thing to me right now," he told reporters, according to the sports network. "There's a lot of things going on overseas. All our people are still in bondage across the world, and there's a lot of dehumanization going on.
"So I apologize if I'm not going to be focused on y'all's questions. It's just too much going on in the world for me to just be talking about basketball," Irving added. "I focus on this most of the time, 24/7, but it's just too much going on in this world not to address. It's just sad to see this s**t going on. It's not just in Palestine, not just in Israel. It's all over the world, and I feel it. I'm very compassionate to it — to all races, all cultures, and to see ... a lot of people being discriminated against based on their religion, color of their skin, what they believe in. It's just sad," ESPN said.
The sports network said the Nets superstar made "multiple references to the ongoing violence" between Israelis and Hamas during his chat with the media.
"I don't care which way you stand on — either side," Irving said, according to ESPN. "If you're a human being, then you support the anti-war effort. There's a lot of people losing their lives — children, a lot of babies, and that's just what I'm focused on. So if you guys want to ask me questions about the game, I really don't care about it except for everyone leaving the game healthy and being able to go home to their families."
On Sunday, the Nets (48-24) clinched the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference with a 123-109 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers, the sports network said.
Here are ESPN's Stephen A. Smith and Max Kellerman reacting to Irving's comments:
Stephen A. and Max react to Kyrie Irving saying he is focused on issues other than basketball youtu.be
The sports network said Irving was fined earlier this month for violating the NBA's media access rules — and was asked Saturday about maintaining a balance between basketball and social issues important to him.
"It's a job," Irving replied, according to ESPN. "I was raised as a survivor. My family comes from practically the bottom in the South Bronx. They came out of some extreme conditions. I'm the product of a lot of sacrifice. ... It's a unique balance because you're on a platform or industry that — a lot of people that are around it or surviving it don't really get a chance to say what they believe in, or they have to play it safe, or they have to worry about money, or they have to worry about what people are saying. I just think you can't be afraid to say what you believe in. It's not about consuming information or trying to be right or politically correct. It's about doing what God intends us all to do — that's to stand on the good word of treating everyone with respect, compassion and love."