Maybe we misunderstood Kyrie Irving all around. He’s not as dumb as we think. He plays the role of a dumb, uneducated guy so well that he enjoys it when we think of him that way. Deep down, he plays the game so well that we should admire it.
A report came out that Irving encouraged his colleagues to not play this NBA season just to focus on Black Lives Matter on a conference call Friday night. This did not surprise me at the least. He rolls that way. He makes you think, react and wonder about his thought process. He finds a way to be relevant. It’s so Machiavelli-like.
Sure we all like to think he means well, but forgive me if I am cynical about Irving’s intent. With his history, he doesn’t deserve the benefit of the doubt.
The $35 million a year Nets point guard decided it was not worth his time to suck it up and play through a shoulder injury at times this season. He expressed no interest in playing when the season resumes since Kevin Durant is not playing, and he does not want to waste his time knowing the Nets would be one-and-out against the Toronto Raptors in the playoffs. He knows he will be criticized for it, so he went one step further by taking his players who have championship dreams with him. If he is not playing, why should anyone else?
Sounds like he wants to have his cake and eat it. He knows he won’t win a championship this year, so why should anyone else?
To use Black Lives Matter as a reason seems convenient for him. If players such as LeBron James, Donovan Mitchell, Kawhi Leonard or Joel Embiid express that as a reason to not play, they deserve the benefit of the doubt. It would have been understandable to the point most basketball fans would agree to that.
Since this was solely Irving’s idea, he does not evoke any empathy. Remember this is a player that milked his injury this season to avoid playing in his homecoming game against the Celtics. He knew he would be booed, and he wanted no part of it. Of course, he found the time to complain on social media when Celtics fans still booed despite not being at the game. This is the same guy who mailed it in for the Celtics after making up his mind he would play with Durant last season. This comes after he told fans before the season started that he would stay in Boston. He hated playing with LeBron James since he could not share James’ passion for the game.
It’s dangerous to question someone’s intentions no doubt, but with Irving, it’s always one thing or another with him. There’s no doubt his thoughts come out well-thought out in getting his point across. In this situation, he expressed his own intentions indirectly of why it’s not worth playing this season. This is all about him more than anyone else.
If Irving is so dedicated to this cause, why can’t he donate his salary to Black Lives Matter? How about pulling a Maya Moore by taking a sabbatical and fighting social injustice? Why can’t he be the guy that leads the charge of building a bridge with African-Americans and the police? Let’s see him do all that, and then I will take him seriously.
Let’s play devil’s advocate with Irving for a second. How does not playing help get anyone’s point across about police brutality, social injustice and racial issues? If anything, by playing, it gives the forum for players and teams to get their point across. They can get paid and donate their money for a purpose like that. It’s hard to take them seriously if they are not going to play.
Now if they want to protest while the season is in progress, that’s fine. They have every right. If anything that makes more sense than sitting out at home. While playing and protesting at the same time, this gets people to pay attention.
Fortunately, NBA commissioner Adam Silver knows how to facilitate things with the union where the players can get their point across and play. It’s hard to believe most players share Irving’s feelings, too.
If Irving means well, he should forfeit his salary altogether with the Nets and go do something about changing the world. That would show me something.
Somehow if Durant was playing this year, Irving would hold off on this cause just to play for a championship even if he was hurt.
When looking at the mercurial history of the Nets point guard, no one should take him seriously.
If nothing else, he got everyone talking about him as the disruptor.
Just the way he likes it.