Stephen A. Smith says that people are putting “their knee on [Kyrie Irving’s] neck.” The comment is in reference to the backlash to the Brooklyn Nets’ star’s antisemitic comments. Smith doubled down in his support of Irving on Friday during ESPN’s First Take.

“We got riots that took place in the streets a couple of years ago, and I told everybody back then,” Smith began. “I said when George Floyd had that knee on his neck, what people didn’t get outside of the Black community is that Black folks were going off because we were saying from a figurative perspective, from a metaphorical perspective, we always feel like we got a knee on our neck.”

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS – FEBRUARY 14: Head coach Stephen A. Smith of Team Stephen A. looks on before the 2020 NBA All-Star Celebrity Game Presented By Ruffles at Wintrust Arena on February 14, 2020 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

“And that’s where the frustration and the foment of vitriol and hostility, and dare I say violence, came shining through,” Smith added.

He continued: “And so here we are again. Now this doesn’t have anything to do with that in a literal perspective, but this is somebody, or a bunch of people out there trying to put their knee and keep their knee on Kyrie’s neck.”

“Kyrie does not deserve that, he made a mistake,” Smith said. “He made a mistake. He had to apologize for it. He’s been embarrassed because of it, he’s cost himself money because of it, he’s been suspended because of it.”

Stephen A. Smith also believes that the Jewish community should be able to forgive Irving. That is if commissioner Adam Silver says that Kyrie Irving learned his lesson.

The Nets originally suspended Irving for sharing an antisemitic film on Twitter and failing to apologize for doing so. It’s unclear when Irving will return to the court. Nets owner Joe Tsai recently remarked that he “has to show people that he’s sorry” before that can happen.

[Via]