Kenyon Martin wants to clear the air.
In a phone call with The Crossover on Friday night, Martin addressed the controversy over comments he made over Brooklyn Nets guard Jeremy Lin's decision to wear his hair as dreads. Lin wrote an essay for The Players' Tribune about cultural appropriation in regards to his hairstyle, while Martin commented about the hair on his Instagram.
Lin responded to Martin both on Instagram and after the Nets' preseason game Thursday, thanking Martin for speaking out and continuing the conversation. Martin, however, says he never intended to start a furor over Lin's hair, and his initial comments were meant to be lighthearted.
Rohan Nadkarni: What's on your mind right now?
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.
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.
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: Were you thinking about the cultural appropriation conversation when you made the comments?
KM: That wasn't even my thought process when I posted the picture. I'm strolling on the internet and the kid has dreads and I reacted. People want to make it into what it is. No matter what color, race, ethnicity, wherever you're from, you have the right to do whatever you want. It's your decision at the end of the day.
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.
RN: What's your big takeaway from the situation?
KM: You definitely have to be careful the way you word things. People can take stuff out of context. I've known that. But when you experience this first hand, there's no teacher like experience.
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.