NBL great Steve Carfino has doubled down on his criticism of Nick Kyrgios’ behaviour during a celebrity game, saying it was the “wrong time and wrong place”.
Carfino ruffled Kyrgios’ feathers after calling him a “jerk” for his play during the Sydney Kings Starlight celebrity game.
Kyrgios, an avid NBA fan, was accused of taking things too far in the exhibition game, landing a huge block on NSW premier Dominic Perrottet while trying to reject a shot from Miss Universe Australia 2020 Maria Thattil.
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Carfino, who was coaching the opposing team, initially took aim at Kyrgios for his behaviour, describing his conduct as “ridiculous”.
“What a jerk. Oh my goodness,” he told Fox Sports.
“And what a lack of sportsmanship. He’s blocking girls’ shots, he’s not passing to his teammates.
“This is a celebrity game. There’s funds to be raised for the Starlight Foundation. It was ridiculous.”
After Kyrgios predictably hit back, calling Carfino a “potato” in a tweet, the NBL great responded, admitting he was a fan of the tennis star.
“Of all the tennis players in Australia, I find Nick Kyrgios the most entertaining to watch,” he told Nova’s Fitzy & Wippa.
“I do think there’s a time and a place for it. If that’s what he has to tap into to get to the world class level that he’s at then fine, I get it. But that was the wrong time and the wrong place.
“I just felt like his behaviour in that game wasn’t right for that moment, that’s all.
“People came at me pretty hard on the comment, but I’ll wear that. To me, it looked like a Seinfeld episode when Kramer is beating up on little kids in the karate class.”
Carfino stressed that his criticism of Kyrgios was not personal.
“His criticism of me was like if I had that attitude maybe I would’ve gone further in the NBA, maybe he’s right,” he said.
“If Michael Jordan or LeBron James were at that (celebrity game) and they acted the same way, I would have the same criticism.”
The former Sydney Kings star’s comments came after he initially said Kyrgios did not play in the spirit of the game.
“I just thought it was unsportsmanlike, you know? It wasn’t the right moment to show how dominant you can be against, you know, Australia’s contestant for Miss World,” he said.
“He’s trying to block her shot. He’s going hard, blocking the shot of the premier, you know, didn’t come out, refused to come out of the game.
“We had 18 players and we got everybody in. I think it was you know, for the betterment of the game. You know, that was the right thing to do.
“It was a celebrity game. Know where you’re at.”
When asked why Kyrgios behaved in such a manner, Carfino said: “I guess white line fever. And his coach was Shane Heal, he suffers from it as well.
“Shane actually said to Nick, he was like ‘Come over here – Carfino doesn’t think you can get 20’. And he (Kyrgios) looked at me like he was ready to kill me.”
It didn’t take long for Kyrgios to fire back at Carfino’s comments, with the tennis player calling the commentator a “potato” on social media.
“Lack of respect? You potato, have a look at my foundation (the NK Foundation) and look me in my eyes and tell me what lack of respect there is for that?” Kyrgios wrote.
“Maybe if you showed less sportsmanship your NBA career would of (sic) lasted longer (laugh emoji).”
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