Thanks to social media, the NBA has become as much about drama as it is about basketball. The constant access to information from players, teams, reporters and other notable personalities has given us an unprecedented amount of access to the inner workings of a franchise.
20 years ago, it was much harder to penetrate the inner workings of a professional sports team, but now it feels like we have nigh-unlimited access to the problems between players, coaches, management and owners.
The Brooklyn Nets have been this year’s biggest example of a team who probably wishes that they could keep a lid on things. To say that they’ve had a big week would be an understatement, considering they fired Steve Nash and promptly lost their first game without him after Zach LaVine outscored them 20-19 in the fourth quarter.
That’s not the end of the news cycle for the Nets this week, though. A few hours ago, the team released a statement saying that they would be suspending Kyrie Irving after all of the furore that he’s created through his social media accounts lately – which all started after he shared what’s been decried as an anti-semitic film that includes denial of the Holocaust.
That’s a huge blow for a team that’s already dealing with an incredible amount of internal turmoil, and it seems ominous that the team statement said that his suspension without pay would be for a minimum of five games. I’m not entirely sure what “objective remedial measures” the Nets are looking to Irving to perform, he’s been in a number of fiery exchanges with the media recently that added fuel to the fire.
Shortly after the suspension was announced, Irving also released what seems like an apology to the Jewish community. How this statement will affect his status with the Nets and the NBA is yet to be seen, but the damage to his image with a sizeable amount of NBA fans has been done.
However, it’s also worth noting that Irving has plenty of supporters, too. In what’s starting to become an increasingly politicized situation, it’s hard to see where reconciliation can happen now, because NBA fans on Twitter and other outlets are having their own heated exchanges with each other.
Just like many other hoops fans, I’ll be checking my Twitter often to see how this situation continues to develop. I think this particular case could become a benchmark for how teams deal with athletes and their social media usage, simply because of how much attention it’s now getting.
Irving is not the first, nor will he be the last athlete to share something divisive on social media, but how this situation is handled may set the standard for how both athletes and teams are held accountable in the future.