It didn't take us long to realize that Kyrie Irving was a special basketball player. We saw him shred Michigan State early in his freshman year at Duke when they tried to triple team him.
They couldn’t touch him.
People still questioned his athleticism then but when we saw that, we knew. He wasn’t going to be good; he was going to be great.
Yet so often, he has sabotaged himself. He was part of a superb team in Cleveland but left because he didn’t like being the considerable shadow of LeBron James. His first title was his last.
He left Boston for nebulous reasons, saying he wanted to be closer to home. That didn't explain his overt subsequent hostility to the Celtics though.
And his time with Brooklyn has also been, well to be kind, erratic. Last season was a train wreck. He should have the freedom to not take the Covid vaccine if he doesn't want to, but that decision had consequences for Irving and his team.
The on-again-off-again part time stuff just caused problems and the Nets fell apart in the playoffs, losing 4-0 to Irving’s old team Boston, despite having two of the greatest talents of this generation in Irving and Kevin Durant.
His latest controversy involves a movie he linked to called Hebrews To Negroes that allegedly contains anti-semitic tropes. We say alleged because we haven’t seen it although we did try (it is on Amazon Prime but not in the free section).
The movie has gotten minimal traction although Rolling Stone wrote about it and some of what they report just sounds nuts. Your average eighth grader could probably debunk a good bit of it within a couple of hours.
We started to say the eighth grader could go to the library to rebut, but no eighth grader would do that. They’d just go to the Internet. And that, we suspect, is part of Irving’s problem.
The Internet has changed everything and we haven’t yet come to grips with it.
This has happened before. Johannes Gutenburg turned society upside down when he introduced his printing press in the 1400’s, allowing people to read and think for themselves. which ultimately resulted in massive social upheaval.
The Internet has allowed for a vast expansion of information and data. The positives are pretty clear. You can order whatever you’d like. People from around the world are able to exchange thoughts and to understand each other better.
But there is, increasingly, a sense that things can spin out of control. There is a huge fight brewing over who should be able to access what. This is compounded because we can’t even agree on what’s true. And that’s before you add in religion and other cultural factors. China has a very different vision of the Internet. The Islamic world has another.
And then the undeniable truth is that freedom of speech and stupidity are colliding. They always have, but the Internet makes it happen much faster. Adolph Hitler wrote Mein Kampf in 1925 but the insanity had to go to a publishing house, be printed, boxed, sent to stores and sold. It took a while to spread its poison.
Today, any fool can say anything at a moment’s notice, and it can be read worldwide.
To an extent, Irving epitomizes that conflict. He is clearly an intelligent man and seems to read a lot, but not deeply. He goes to the Internet and finds fantastical things. Someone makes an argument for the earth being flat and he accepts it, even though your average eight grader, again, can quite easily see the sun only lights the part of the sphere that faces it as earth rotates and the rest is either partly or fully dark. He apparently finds Alex Jones intriguing.
Aside from the general uproar over this latest controversy, people are clearly losing patience with him. Shaquille O’Neal and Charles Barkley ripped him, with both calling him an idiot. Nets owner Joe Tsai was diplomatic but clearly distressed.
Irving has many admirable qualities but he’s not a kid anymore. It’s time to grow up and think more seriously, to read more deeply. Someone who wishes to be taken seriously - and Irving clearly does - should question not just conventional wisdom but those who also question it. If he really wants to start getting to truth, then he should read those who most ruthlessly pursue it. Our suggestion is to start with the essays of George Orwell.
Irving has issued a joint statement with the Anti Defamation League acknowledging that ”I am aware of the negative impact of my post towards the Jewish community, and I take responsibility.” Irving and the Nets both committed $500,000 to various causes as a form of recompense.
Better late than never and surely appreciated, but the rest of the work falls on Irving. He can and should do better.
- “Now, we gotta answer for what this idiot has done” — Shaquille O’Neal and Charles Barkley slam Kyrie Irving
- Charles Barkley rips Kyrie Irving, Nets and NBA over ongoing drama
- Duke coach Jon Scheyer on former Blue Devils guard Kyrie Irving and antisemitism
- Kyrie Irving: ‘I take responsibility’ for post’s impact on Jewish community
- Irving takes responsibility for tweet, will donate $500,000
- Kyrie Irving’s Trade Value Considered ‘Radioactive’