Jeremy Lin addressed cultural appropriation in a post for The Players’ Tribune earlier this week, and in the aftermath, former NBA player Kenyon Martin responded with controversial comments, including that Lin wanted to “be black” with his choice of hairstyle.
Since then, Lin responded with a remarkable Instagram post that garnered quite a bit of attention, and as you may expect, the ball swung back to Martin’s court for what just might be the final part of the saga.
On Friday evening, Martin spoke with Rohan Nadkarni of Sports Illustrated and shed light on his his original comments about the Brooklyn Nets point guard.
Martin tried to clarify his thoughts, stressing that this wasn’t racially charged and things got out of control beyond their original intent.
“This was never meant to be racial. It was thought of as what would’ve been done in our locker room. It would’ve been jokes. We would’ve been making jokes. It’s far from racist. I guess saying “Wanting to be black” made it racial. But I despise people that look down because of race. It was meant to be a “Ha Ha Ha” moment. If you watch, I was laughing in the statements. It got taken too far. I wanted to clear the air. I don’t know Jeremy. He’s had a few crazy hairstyles before and I had the same thought process: ‘WTF.’ But I wasn’t trying to be racist. I didn’t even know he did the Players Tribune thing.”
Beyond that, Martin indicated that things “got out of control” and that he has reached out to Lin through direct message while “trying to get his phone number” to later “clear the air.”
It is likely the best case scenario for the two men to speak directly, if only because trading reaction through the media (in various ways) is not quite as productive as a two-way dialogue could be.
Martin’s full comments are certainly worth a read in order to understand his full thought process but, in addition, he indicated he has “no problem with Jeremy.”
“I have no problem with Jeremy, man. People were attacking me, calling me racist or n—–. I didn’t call him any kind of derogatory thing. He has the right to rock any hairstyle he wants. It got out of control. It wasn’t meant to be anything more than banter. Jeremy is an athlete and I would hope he understood that this was in fun and not to offend and as long as he’s not offended that’s all that matters. I wish him well.”
Martin and Lin seemed to have cleared the air to some extent already, and thankfully, this did not escalate in the way that it could have if not for Lin’s measured original response. Still, it comes as a reminder (and Martin said as much) that being more careful in the way things are worded is usually a good idea, and general respect for other people is always the way to go.