Kenyon Martin is not the villain here. Neither is Jeremy Lin. And the internet beef between the former and current Nets stars over Lin’s decision to get dreadlocks doesn’t boil down to a feud, or killing anyone with kindness or someone getting treated. The only losers here are the ones failing to acknowledge Martin and Lin’s right to have a conversation, and who refuse to engage with it.

Lin wrote a thoughtful piece on the Players’ Tribune earlier in the week explaining his decision to get dreads, encouraged by Nets teammate Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, who did so in turn. Hollis-Jefferson is black, and dreadlocks are—of course—a black hairstyle. Lin, who is Asian-American, has drawn media attention and some degree of online confusion, occasionally bordering on mockery, for his varied hairstyles over the past couple seasons. And that’s a conversation for another time—let’s just say more people freaked over Lin’s man-bun and cornrows than all of Spencer Hawes’s questionable variations of beard and hair.

The essence of Lin’s essay acknowledged the issue of appropriation, and Lin never claimed to have the answers. There’s a fine line between respect and mockery when it comes to racial and ethnically-steeped signifiers, and by most accounts, he walked it well. The end note of the piece simply asks readers to have a dialogue. “We need more empathy, more compassion and less judgment. That takes actual work and communication,” he wrote. It’s safe to say the coverage of the aftermath has whiffed on that.