“NBA voice Grant Napear opens up on ‘All Lives Matter’ firing”
“I don’t want to call it a mistake,” the Syosset, Long Island, native told The Post on Wednesday in a wide-ranging phone interview. Of the tweet and its aftermath, Napear said, “I don’t even know what adjective to describe it.”
Napear on Tuesday resigned from the Kings and was fired by his radio station, where he had an eponymous show known for its abrasive, New York flair.
Two days earlier, he had tweeted “ALL LIVES MATTER…EVERY SINGLE ONE!!!” in response to former Kings star DeMarcus Cousins, who asked Napear his thoughts on the Black Lives Matter movement.
Napear, who insists he did not know that “All Lives Matter” is a phrase often used to belittle the Black Lives Matter movement, became choked up at times when talking with The Post while defending himself against the notion he was denouncing the black community and has racist views.
“It makes me feel sick to my stomach because it is absolutely the opposite of who I am,” he said. “I am 60 years old. I will let the track record of my life and what I’ve done for my community and what I’ve done. … People who know me, of all races, I’ll let them tell the story.”
Napear said he was caught off guard by Cousins’ question, and said he had previously muted Cousins on Twitter because he “didn’t care to see all the banter” about Cousins after the Kings traded the former fifth-overall pick in 2017.
But the two have long had a shaky relationship.
“It was very turbulent, on and off,” Napear said of their relationship, which began when Cousins was drafted in 2010. “He was constantly in trouble, getting into suspensions. He was a very volatile personality. And I had a talk show and so there were times I had to be critical of him. I’m sure he did not appreciate my criticism.”
Such as in 2019, when Napear called Cousins “the rudest, crudest, most vile player that I have ever been around in my 31 years in the NBA,” after Cousins cursed out Raptors fans who cheered the injury of his then-Warriors teammate Kevin Durant, during the finals of that year.
Attempts to reach Cousins, who was waived by the Lakers in February, went unanswered.
“Lol as expected,” Cousins responded to Napear’s “All Lives Matter” tweet, which was followed up by two other former Kings players calling out Napear.
“Would expect nothing less from a closet racists,” tweeted Matt Barnes, whom Napear said has participated in his charity golf tournament.
“Demarcus we know and have known who grant is,” said former Kings All-Star Chris Webber, who is now an NBA on TNT analyst. “The team knows as well. I’ve told them many times. They’ve seen it. They know who he is,” said Webber, adding two clown emojis.
Webber did not respond to multiple interview requests.
“I have not once in my 32 years in doing the Sacramento Kings had any individual from either the radio station or the Kings mention anything in any way, shape or form about me and my relations with minorities, with any other group of people,” Napear said. “That is an absolute disgrace that that would ever be said. That is an absolute disgrace.”
Napear said he also has criticized Webber on and off the court, and claimed Webber and Cousins were “two of the most sensitive athletes” he’s ever been around.
Since the “All Lives Matter” tweet was posted, Napear’s critics have pointed to what they believe to be other examples of Napear crossing the racial line.
As the NBA investigated disgraced former Clippers owner Donald Sterling in 2014 after a clip of Sterling making racist remarks about African Americans was leaked, Napear was asked by a caller whether he thought Sterling was a racist.
“I said something like, ‘I don’t know if Donald Sterling is a racist, I don’t know, but what I do know is it is very interesting that, as the owner of the basketball team, he has a black general manager and a black head coach.’ That’s what was the context of the conversation. Until I read [the Sterling reference] in The Post [earlier this week], I had to go back and ask some coworkers to refresh where this even came from because it caught me off guard. I never ever defended Donald Sterling and the charges. Not one time.”
Napear’s response matches up with a Sacramento Bee report of the same incident. Napear said he didn’t face backlash at the time. Sterling lost control of the Clippers shortly after.
There also was a tweet in 2018, in which Napear agreed with a Twitter user who said they didn’t want to see protests at football games, a reference to former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick kneeling years earlier to protest police brutality.
To that, Napear said, “When I go to a play on Broadway, I want to go see a performance. I don’t want to see any political statements being made or any social issues because that’s not why I’m going. I have no problem with people protesting.”
Napear said multiple former black Kings players and colleagues have reached out to show their support, but he declined to reveal their names.
Chris “Mad Dog” Russo, who grew up with Napear, said Tuesday on his show that “to say that Grant Napear is a racist is absurd. In my knowledge of him … Grant Napear, trust me when I say this, this is me, is anything but a racist.”
The Post relayed Russo’s thoughts to Napear, who began to break down while speaking about his late father, Bert, who fought for civil rights on Long Island.
“The fact that you just told me that,” Napear said, “I’m sorry that I got so emotional, because if anybody knows me and what my family stood for, that’s Chris Russo.”
Napear says he doesn’t know what’s next for him, “just trying to get through today.”
He is on the board of the FUTURE Foundation of Sacramento, which provides college scholarships for those in need of financial aid. He has hosted an annual golf tournament for the cause since 1995, and said at his next meeting he will discuss how the foundation can be involved in the Black Lives Matter protests.
“If I can help out others and educate them the way I was educated, that’s great,” he said.
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