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What bothers a Jewish Mavericks fan about the Kyrie Irving trade

Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic (77) drives against Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving (11) during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Thursday, Oct. 27, 2022, in New York.
John Minchillo/AP
Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic (77) drives against Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving (11) during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Thursday, Oct. 27, 2022, in New York.

While with the Brooklyn Nets, the all-star point guard posted a link to an anti-Semitic film on social media. Irving apologized, but David Trink wasn't satisfied. He spoke with KERA's Sam Baker about the piece he contributed to the Mavs Moneyball sports blog, “What it now means to be a Jewish Mavericks fan, courtesy of Kyrie Irving.”

What did you think of the trade for Irving?

When I first saw the news on my phone that it was officially happening, you would think that I would have rejoiced because we need to get Luka (Doncic) some help. And so you would think that this trade was that move to do that.

And instead, I just saw it and I was like, this cannot be right. I was confused, very disappointed, and frustrated because obviously it's out of my control and now I, as a Mavs fan, have to deal with what do I do now? And as a Jew.

Irving was suspended, but he ultimately apologized. Why wasn't that enough?

Well, his initial reaction and what he's done since then, tells me I'm not sure he actually understands what he did and the severity of it, because when he was initially questioned about it, his whole thing was like, “I didn't promote it. This wasn't a promotion. Next question.” And then he denied like, I'm not anti-Semitic.

He’s basically tried to take the blame off of himself at first, instead of just coming out and saying, I understand what I did was very hurtful.

His apology didn't seem like it was something he felt he needed to do. It seemed like something he was forced to do to get reinstated by the team.

What could or should Kyrie Irving do to make amends?

He needs to spend some time talking to a lot of different people in the Jewish community and really trying to understand what he did. And it needs to be like a concerted and consistent effort, not just a one-time thing.

I've seen a lot of things that are saying he's donated money to this and to that. Athletes have a lot of money. What they don't have is time. And what Kyrie Irving has failed to do is put in the time to understand what he's done.

Do you think the Mavericks are responsible for him making sure that Kyrie Irving gets to that point of redemption?

I don't really think it's on the Mavericks to force him to do that. Mark Cuban is Jewish and so certainly he could help to educate Kyrie, but it's going to have to come from Kyrie himself taking initiative to do that. It's not enough to be forced to do it. He's got to want to understand.

David, how do you respond to those who in essence none of this matters, it happened elsewhere, and the only thing that counts in Dallas is winning.

And to that, I say some things are bigger than basketball. And if you think that it's all about wins and losses and playing basketball, well, these athletes are people. They're human beings. They make mistakes, they make dumb decisions, and they say things that they probably shouldn't say. And when they do that, they have to make up for it as human beings.

So, this situation to me really is more important than basketball, because Irving has a following of nearly five million people on Twitter, and so everything he says carries weight. Basketball is just something he does. The stuff that he talks about and the stuff that he posts is who he is and he needs to make up for the hurt that he's caused in the last four or so months.

Going forward, are you still a Mavs fan or are you done with them?

It's hard for me to say whether I can support the team. I'm going to watch the games. I'm going to look at everything that's happened because I think that having a voice for this website is more important. Boycotting the Mavericks, in my opinion, doesn't do as much as if I continue to follow them and speak out about different things.


What it now means to be a Jewish Mavericks fan, courtesy of Kyrie Irving

Kyrie Irving Says He Wants to Change His Narrative in Dallas

Kyrie Irving could turn Mavericks’ dream backcourt with Luka Doncic into a nightmare

Sam Baker is KERA's senior editor and local host for Morning Edition. The native of Beaumont, Texas, also edits and produces radio commentaries and Vital Signs, a series that's part of the station's Breakthroughs initiative. He also was the longtime host of KERA 13’s Emmy Award-winning public affairs program On the Record. He also won an Emmy in 2008 for KERA’s Sharing the Power: A Voter’s Voice Special, and has earned honors from the Associated Press and the Public Radio News Directors Inc.