Kyle O’Quinn, the 76ers’ reserve center, caused a stir Monday when he “liked” an Instagram post critical of the team by reserve point guard Trey Burke’s father.
After Tuesday’s practice, O’Quinn was front and center to talk about the situation, saying he felt things got overblown.
On Monday, Burke’s father, Alfonso Clarke Burke, better known as Benjie Burke, posted on Instagram his desire to have his son traded. His post read: “Man, get my dude off this team. Killing him. They will not get out of the east without bench scoring. Free TB23 please.”
Burke’s number is 23.
“I ‘like’ pretty much everything on Instagram that is Sixers-related,” O’Quinn said after practice as the Sixers prepare for Wednesday’s home game against the Miami Heat. “That is why I follow those pages. I think they support us during the good times and bad times. If you noticed, there was a tweet posted on Instagram, so I ‘liked’ the post on Instagram. So it is not like I retweeted, commented on it, or shared my thoughts.”
O’Quinn said he didn’t realize the person posting it was Burke’s father.
“To be honest, I didn’t know it was his dad’s Twitter handle,” O’Quinn said. “I met him several times and he has always been Mr. Burke to me. A name like that, I didn’t catch it. I liked it because it was a fan sharing an insight on the game.”
On Monday, Burke responded to the post in a statement released by the team.
“Earlier today, I was made aware of my dad’s social media post,” the statement read. “While I appreciate the support he’s shown throughout my career, his comments don’t reflect how I feel and we’ve addressed that. My focus is doing whatever I can to help this team win a championship. I appreciate the support this organization, the fans and city of Philadelphia have shown me.”
Both Burke and O’Quinn have seen scant playing time. Burke has had 16 games when he has been listed as DNP (did not play)-coach’s decision. O’Quinn has had eight.
In the past two games, rookie Norvel Pelle has gone in at center ahead of O’Quinn.
When it was suggested to O’Quinn that by liking the post, it was also perceived as him not being happy with his own playing time, he soundly refuted that theory.
“It had nothing to do with me,” he said. “It was a just Philly post and a ‘like’ is kind of like an acknowledgment. So if a guy goes down on another team and you like that post, are you cheering that on? I don’t think so. It is acknowledging it. If I want to add a comment to say my thoughts I will, but a ‘like,’ I think, is a little harmless ...”
That said, it has been a frustrating time for O’Quinn, who played sparingly last season with the Indiana Pacers. When asked how difficult this year has been in terms of dealing with playing time, he said, “I am dealing with it on my own. I am always ready. A lot of people can attest to it on my behalf. I think I do a good job at what I can handle.”
So he vows to continue to stay ready when his number is called.
“Last year was tough, and this year is still brewing,” he said.
When a team is going well, it’s hard to give everybody minutes. The Sixers are 20-8 and are the NBA’s lone team that is unbeaten at home with a 14-0 mark.
Coach Brett Brown didn’t want to discuss the situation relating to O’Quinn and Burke. When asked if he had any comment on the post by Burke’s father, Brown replied, “No, I don’t.”
Asked if it is a tough situation when everybody wants to play and whether it is difficult as a coach to keep everybody happy, he replied, “It is.”
Pelle played extensively the last two games as the backup center because Al Horford missed Friday’s 116-109 win over New Orleans with left knee soreness and left hamstring tightness and Joel Embiid was out for Sunday’s 109-89 loss at Brooklyn with an upper-respiratory illness. Pelle played 11 minutes and 56 seconds against New Orleans and 20:44 against Brooklyn.
Brown was a little more expansive when asked whether he sees Pelle continuing to see more time.
“I do,” Brown said. "I would preface it by saying this, are Al and Joel available? Lately, I have gone with Norvel ahead of Kyle. I think he has shown promise on why that is. I think Kyle was doing just fine but I think Norvel is just something a little bit different as it relates to shot-blocking, rim protection, and so we wanted to test drive that and I thought what I saw I was impressed with.”
Embiid returned to practice Tuesday. Both he and Horford are expected to play against the Heat.