Kyrie Irving’s been making headlines again recently, and as has become the case this year, it hasn’t been for good reasons.
The two most recent incidents with Irving involve his apparent intention to retire should the Nets trade him, and his recent tweet about removing masks.
The first situation, regarding his intention to retire, has just been bizarre. The way he responded to the allegations from Nick Wright of Fox Sports 1 was vintage Irving.
The exchange between the two was strange, to say the least, especially since Irving has made his distaste for the media publicly known. To be fair to Irving, Wright didn’t really substantiate his claims beyond the first tweet, and hasn’t shared any information about what those ‘handful of Kyrie trades’ are. This situation is probably a non-issue within the Nets organization, as their head honchos know that there’s no situation where they could get a good trade return for Irving, who missed a number of games for personal reasons last season, and was also hit with a $50,000 fine for violating Covid-19 protocols.
Irving’s family lives in New Jersey, and he’s got a very close relationship with them. He doesn’t want to go anywhere, and he’s personally not given any indication about wanting to retire any time soon. It’s not a secret that Irving doesn’t plan to have a long career like his former teammate LeBron James, but he recently affirmed a desire to take advantage of his basketball gifts. He’s also due for a big extension.
The situation with Wright’s claims and Irving’s Instagram post from a few weeks ago directly contradict each other, but hey, that’s Irving in a nutshell for you.
The other thing that Irving did to create an online furor was his tweet about removing masks, which obviously got a reaction because of the highly-politicised nature of mask-wearing that has the US divided.
He clarified his meaning later with a further tweet to respond after his initial one blew up.
When it comes to Irving, it’s hard to tell where the truth of the matter lies. He’s had a history of saying strange things and then backtracking, like when he apologized about his flat-earther conspiracy theories.
But to me, it’s understandable why there was such a polarizing reaction to his tweets. Covid-19 has been such a hot topic in the US that anything that could even be interpreted as taking one side is an instant cause for arguments. You just have to look at the responses to the two tweets above to understand how divisive the word “mask” is. If Irving’s explanation is true, even he has to know that he was going to get that kind of reaction.
He’s such a puzzling personality, and you really don’t know what’s going through his head. His status as a basketball prodigy is not in question, because his talent manifests itself whenever he actually gets on the basketball court. He’s one of the most skilled to ever grace an NBA roster.
He’s also not the completely callous and uncaring person that some portray him to be, as he’s done a lot of good for communities. He donated $1.5 million of his money to WNBA players, something that he didn’t have to do. He also donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to help distribute 250,000 meals in the New York area in March of 2020, when the pandemic was hitting New York hard. Those are two of the more publicized acts of charity, but there are probably a lot more smaller acts that either haven’t been covered or he hasn’t felt the need to talk about.
For a team in a win-now situation like the Brooklyn Nets, it must be frustrating to continue to see this behavior from one of their Big 3. They’ve stacked themselves with good veterans to help supplement Irving, Kevin Durant and James Harden, but the Nets’ title hopes lie on the three of them staying on the court. That hasn’t happened so far, with the trio only playing in eight games together during the regular season, and six times in the playoffs. Irving hurt himself in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Milwaukee Bucks, which forced an already-hurt Harden to come back prematurely and visibly stunted by his hamstring injury, and the Nets still pushed that series to seven games and almost won with Durant the lone healthy star on the floor.
When you take the bad luck into consideration, you can understand why the Nets would want to run it back for another year or two with this core. They’re locked into their Big 3’s contracts, and they may be the best trio on offense that has ever been assembled.
I just wish that Irving would stop continuing to create distracting scenarios for the team, and even though this is happening in the offseason, you always have to wonder what new issues or drama will come up. When it comes to the world of Kyrie, you never know what you’re gonna get. However, if the Nets win the chip with him on the roster this coming season, none of that will matter. As usual, winning changes everything, and that’s all Irving’s got to help them do.