When it comes to activist athletes, Kyrie Irving is certainly toward the top of the list.
The Brooklyn Nets star has been very outspoken on race and social issues in recent years and appeared to have been participating in his own silent protest along with several other Nets teammates.
Matt Sullivan, whose book, “Can’t Knock the Hustle,” followed the Nets amid player protests and a pandemic, noted in a Twitter thread and GQ article how Irving, Kevin Durant and DeAndre Jordan were not present for the playing of the national anthem following the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.
Sullivan wrote that Irving had taken a break from the Nets in January following the Capitol riot and no charges in the Jacob Blake shooting.
Upon Irving’s return, he slipped out of the pregame layup line. Durant followed and DeAndre Jordan would leave the court, too. They would reappear after the anthem was played and the lights came on.
Sullivan said he exchanged DMs with Irving on March 1 and asked him why he was not out for the anthem. Irving began typing but ultimately declined to comment.
Sullivan provided several videos in his Twitter thread which showed the trio absent for the national anthem.
Neither Irving, Durant nor Jordan spoke to Sullivan to confirm whether or not they were protesting during the national anthem, but sources close to the stars confirmed that they were indeed leaving the court during the national anthem.
There were other protests around the league during the season, particularly after the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, but Irving has seemingly taken a larger role.
Per Sullivan’s GQ article, Irving arranged for pallets of food to be dropped off at a high school on the Standing Rock reservation and explored funding a camp for Israeli and Palestinian children in the middle of the conflict.
He also teamed up with former NBA player Stephen Jackson to put a down payment on a home for the family of George Floyd.
“Kyrie is pretty much the Kaepernick of the NBA,” Jackson said.
Kaepernick was the first to conduct a protest of sitting out the national anthem in 2016 due to racial and social injustice within the U.S., particularly with the way police treat minorities.
Irving’s aunt told Sullivan she was not sure whether or not the Nets star was conducting a silent protest but more about “demonstrating who he is.”
“If something has impacted him in a way that he feels like he has a right to not to participate, say something or not say something,” she said, “he’s gonna take that stand.”