Retired NBA All Star Kenyon Martin told Sports Illustrated that his comments about Brooklyn Nets guard Jeremy Lin‘s locks were just playful banter, not racial hatred.
K-Mart also revealed that his joke that Lin wants to be black caused some trolls to call him “nigger,” while others messaged his son.
Martin said, “I recently erased the post off my page. People were sending messages to my son. Like, no. Say whatever to me and about me. I have thick skin. I know what my intentions were. But then those are the things that are coming across. You n—– this. Your n—– that.
Sports Illustrated has the full interview, here are the highlights:
Kenyon Martin: 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.
RN: So to be clear, what was your intention?
KM: If you listen to it, I was saying he wouldn’t have made it in our locker room. We would’ve made jokes every single day. He is a grown man. He can rock whatever hairstyle he wants to rock. People missed all of that. Just like I’m a grown man. I can say whatever I want.
RN: Anything else you want to get off your chest?
KM: 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.
RN: Have you spoken to Jeremy?
KM: I DM’d him after the fact. I’m a grown man. I can admit if something got out of control or if I did something wrong. I’m trying to get his phone number as we speak so we can clear the air.