Paul Smith, co-owner of the Sydney Kings basketball team, has slammed former Kings legend Steve Carfino for the latter’s harsh criticism of Nick Kyrgios over his play in the recent Celebrity All-Star game.
Carfino played in the NBL for the Hobart Devils and Sydney Kings from 1986 and 1991 before becoming the face of the league during the halcyon days in the 1990s when the NBL enjoyed its biggest period of success. However, the veteran commentator was not amused by the antics of tennis star Kyrgios who lit up Qudos Bank Arena in the recent charity match which was put together to raise money for kid’s charity the Starlight Foundation.
Carfino was coaching the opposition team and said Kyrgios was ‘a jerk’ and showed a ‘lack of sportsmanship’ for swatting away shots from NSW Premier Dom Perrottet and Miss Universe Australia 2020 Maria Thattil while often refusing to pass so he could score himself.
“It wasn’t the right moment to show how dominant you can be against, you know, Australia’s contestant for Miss World, ‘he said.’ It was a celebrity game. Know where you’re at.”
Now Smith has fired back and said having Kyrgios in the charity match was great for the initiative, which the NBL hopes could become an annual event.
“What is Steve thinking?” Smith told the Sydney Morning Herald. “Nick was terrific. He wasn’t over the top at all. He didn’t dunk over anyone. He wasn’t out of line. None of that happened. He handled himself impeccably.
“The purpose of the match was to raise money for the Starlight Foundation and Nick was critical to that. We want him back next year. This was a really bad take from Steve. Nobody has said anything to me along those lines.”
Kyrgios also fired back on Instagram and joked that Carfino could have enjoyed a longer career in the NBA if he showed ‘less sportsmanship’.