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Nets' Kyrie Irving Not Focused on Basketball amid 'Dehumanization' Around World

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured Columnist IVMay 16, 2021

Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images

For just the eighth time this season, the Big Three of Kevin Durant, James Harden and Kyrie Irving all played together for the Brooklyn Nets during Saturday's 105-91 win over the Chicago Bulls.

But after the game, Irving said he was focused on a lot more than just basketball:

"For me personally, I'm not really...I'm not gonna lie to you guys. There's a lot of stuff that's going on in this world, and basketball's just not the most important thing to me right now. There's a lot of stuff going on overseas. All my people are still in bondage all across the world, and there's a lot of dehumanization going on.
"So I apologize if I'm not gonna 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. I got to focus on this s--t 24-7, most of the time, but it's just too much going on in this world not to address. It's sad to see the s--t going on.
"And it's not just in Palestine, it's not just in Israel. It's all over the world, man. And I feel it. I'm very compassionate to all races, all cultures, and to see a lot of different people being discriminated against based on their religion, color of their skin, what they believe in—it's just sad. We all say we're human beings and we care, and we're compassionate, but what are you doing to help?
"Being in this gym—yeah, I'm grateful for the opportunity, it's a blessing—but my goal out here, my purpose is to help humanity. And I can't sit here and not address that. I don't care which way you stand, on either side, if you're a human being and you support the anti-war effort that's going on—there's a lot of people losing their lives, children, a lot of babies—that's just what I'm focused on."

Fighting between Israel and Palestine has intensified in recent days. According to CNN, the Palestinian Health Ministry says at least 139 people in Gaza have been killed—including 39 children—and 1,000 more are injured, while Israel's emergency service says 10 people have been killed in Israel, including two children.

Ted Chaiban, UNICEF's regional director for the Middle East and North Africa, said of the conflict that "all sides have an obligation to protect civilians—especially children—and facilitate humanitarian access."

The 47-24 Nets, currently the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference, will conclude their regular season on Sunday versus Irving's former team, the Cleveland Cavaliers.

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