Kyrie Irving’s absurd mishandling of a controversy that started as one malignant tweet shows, in every way, how out of whack the Brooklyn Nets star is, and how limited his future may be.
Kyrie keeps digging himself deeper and deeper
Celebrity access to social media has become a double-edged sword. It allows high-profile people a direct channel to their fans without having to negotiate the wants and needs of traditional media. But on the flip side, stars often operate without their armor of publicists and public relations professionals tailoring and protecting their images, making them vulnerable to stepping in it.
And last week, Irving stepped in a mound of it.
The former Celtic shared a video on Twitter from a documentary, “Hebrews to Negroes: Wake Up Black America.” The three-hour film serves up a litany of antisemitic tropes and conspiracy claims, including the idea that Jewish people did not die in the Holocaust.
In the following days, Irving raised red flag after red flag about his accountability as a professional athlete and his future in the NBA.
When the Nets gave Irving the opportunity to meet with a scrum of media to apologize for the post and disavow the film, he zagged and criticized anyone for making a big deal out of the tweet, talking for 14 minutes and going down strange detours about “the Oxford Dictionary.”
He’s too smart to apologize or explain. You wouldn’t get it anyway. You’re too closed-minded.
Irving only issued a statement saying he was sorry after the Nets handed down a five-game suspension that will cost him more than $2.2 million and NBA commissioner Adam Silver scheduled a meeting with the guard. And oh yeah, Nike quietly suspended him Friday.
The ordeal raises concerns around the league not only about Irving’s judgement and character, but once again, about his commitment to playing basketball at the highest level.
Because once again, Irving is unavailable to play for reasons completely within his control.
The Nets star vehemently opposed vaccination against COVID-19 during the 2021-22 season, preventing him from playing home games in New York, where vaccination was mandated in sports arenas. Whatever side you come down on in vaccine mandates, Irving prioritized his own stubbornness over his team’s season, and it wrecked the Nets’ chemistry. Irving’s former team, the Boston Celtics, bounced them in the first round.
Now the Nets are demanding Irving completes sensitivity training and an educational course on antisemitism. Whether the star follows through with the team’s requests could dictate the future of his career in the league. As reported by The Athletic Tuesday, many NBA executives feel the star’s constant off-court issues have already affected his earning potential.
In a sad bit of irony, this week marks the dark anniversary of Kristallnacht, the “Night of Broken Glass” during which Nazis destroyed Jewish homes and businesses in Germany, Austria and parts of Czechoslovakia. More than 90 years later, Jewish Americans are seeing a wave of antisemitism in many of their own communities, watching synagogues and Holocaust memorials become targeted for vandalism and destruction.