Nick Kyrgios says Novak Djokovic is similar to LeBron James in that they both use their influence on and off the court; Kyrgios says he had a duty to call out the Serb, saying: “When he was doing some of the things he was doing during the global pandemic, it just wasn’t the right time.”
“He’s technically our LeBron James in the way he has to be setting an example for all tennis players,” Nick Kyrigios says Novak Djokovic is tennis’ version of LeBron James but explained why he felt the need to hold the Serbian to account for his actions during the coronavirus pandemic.
Australian maverick Kyrgios believes the world No 1 is similar to James in their influence both on and off the court.
But Kyrgios says he had a duty to call out the 17-time Grand Slam champion when he “lost his way” during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Kyrgios was not alone among his compatriots in objecting to what were portrayed as Djokovic’s “demands” in a letter to Australian Open organisers asking for quarantine restrictions to be relaxed, although Djokovic said his good intentions had been “misconstrued”.
“He is one of the leaders of our sport,” Kyrgios told CNN. “He’s technically our LeBron James in the way he has to be setting an example for all tennis players.
“When he was doing some of the things he was doing during the global pandemic, it just wasn’t the right time. I know everyone makes mistakes, some of us go off track sometimes, and I think we have to hold each other accountable.
“No one else was really holding him accountable. Everyone loses their way a little bit but I think he just needs to pull it back.”
Some pointed out that Djokovic and other top players such as Rafael Nadal and Dominic Thiem were undergoing quarantine in more salubrious surroundings in Adelaide and not actually subjected to the conditions in Melbourne.
“Djokovic’s balcony is bigger than my room but at least he said something,” said Argentine Guido Pella last week.
“I’m surprised with Nadal and Thiem’s silence.”
In an interview with ESPN, Nadal hit back, saying: “We all try to help each other. Some need to make public all they do to try to help others, while some of us do it privately without publishing our calls or making propaganda with it.”