Kyrie Irving: A Mind Beyond Basketball

With the playoffs fast approaching, the Brooklyn Nets are finally getting back to form with the return of stars Kevin Durant, James Harden, and the rest of the squad. IT is much needed for each team player to prepare mentally and physically for the gruesome postseason finally taking its shape.

However, one of those stars, Kyrie Irving, was under scrutiny from the media, questioning his priorities with the Nets entering into the playoffs. Over a Saturday’s win over the Chicago Bulls, Kyrie didn’t respond to basketball-related questions. He commented:

“There’s a lot of things going on overseas. All our people are still in bondage across the world, and there’s a lot of dehumanization going on.”

Over the recent Palestinian-Israel conflicts, Kyrie pointed out that basketball isn’t in his topmost mind right now. His concerns don’t lie within the game but rather the things that are happening outside of basketball.

Regarding Kyrie’s recent comments, there has been a debate within the media towards the comments he implied towards his peers, especially the press. Stephen A Smith on First Take commented,

“Kyrie really doesn’t get how we cross.. What he’s saying implies that other people don’t care.”

As he divulged in the matter, Smith criticized how Kyrie’s comments and how it brings forth assumes the lack of sensitivity of the people he’s referring to. Although he’s allowed to, Smith reminded Kyrie that as a professional basketball player, it’s his job to answer to the media related to the sport he plays night in and out. 

Kyrie’s Past Actions

If you have been fans in the league, you should’ve known that these types of scenarios are a one-of-a-kind Kyrie-move to do. His fiascos within the press have been among the most compelling parts of his NBA throughout his career.

Specifically, in his second season with the Nets, Kyrie has done many things outside of basketball worth noting. Earlier in the month, Irving has claimed that he participates in Ramadan- a practice by Muslims to fast from dawn to sunset. It implies that an NBA player cannot eat or drink anything during the day. It boggles me how it works if he plays out every single night. 

Even before a game, Kyrie’s pregame rituals were as unexpected as an NBA player would do. Earlier in the season, fans saw Kyrie performing a sage ritual before a game against the Boston Celtics. 

It went as far as his refusal to participate in media availability that the NBA fined him and the Brooklyn Nets 35,000 dollars for skipping mandated media sessions.

A lot of hate has been on Kyrie around the personality that comes with it. His attitude of a mind bigger than basketball gets across some of the people’s skin surrounded in the sports world. In the accumulation of these actions, fans have questioned how much these upcoming playoffs mean to him. Are these acts going to interfere with the team’s chances to win?

About The Nets’ Success

Regardless of how Kyrie delivers himself off the court, the fact is, he is still regarded as one of the best players today. There has been no actual evidence that his moments off the court have affected his play throughout the season.

Even with his time with the Cavaliers, Kyrie’s part has translated into playoff success with consistent NBA Finals appearances alongside LeBron James and Kevin Love. This year has been the first year in a long time Kyrie is favored to compete in the East. The expectations of Irving to perform have been so high coming into the postseason, not to mention playing alongside Kevin Durant and James Harden. We should expect the Nets to make a run for the chip. The pressure for the three of them to perform has to be at its highest. 

Irving, 29, has finished one of the best seasons of his career. It has been funny to think within the media that even though Kyrie became the 9th player in NBA history to achieve a 50-40-90 shooting split in an entire season (which is super rare), most of the sparked conversations about him are his doings outside the basketball floor. 

At some points within the season, the Nets, unfortunately, had to play without Harden and Durant due to injuries; it was Kyrie that set the tone and performed as a leader for the Nets and translated to wins. Ending the season, the Nets had a five-game winning streak and are all hot heading into the postseason.

However, even as Kyrie’s play is unaffected despite what he does off the court, how does this affect the team entirely?

As we know, the media within the playoffs gets brighter and brighter. It means a lot more eyes and ears are towards the players, games, and everything it has to offer. Doing or saying this within the season might fall off as time passes by. But in the playoffs, controversies can cause a lot of attention so quickly so fast. So regardless of how Kyrie takes it, how do the rest of the team take it?

If there would be players that know how to take in the playoffs, it’s Kevin Durant and James Harden. They have to act as leaders, locked in every game regardless of off-court situations. There are still the favorites heading into the postseason, and I expect massive games from these players when the time comes. 

My Thoughts Around The Situation

I love when people like Irving challenges people to think. It creates conversations necessary for people like us to succeed. Maybe not everything he says (Flat Earth thing), but we get to understand context and comprehension on issues surrounding social justice and equality. 

The thing is, he gets publicized but only for the right reasons. His actions may get criticized too much because the media sees him more as a player than a person. Irving is a couple of people that remind ourselves that being an athlete or any profession is a job at the end of the day. We are grounded that we shouldn’t be too focused on what we’re doing and what we also achieve.

Going back to the Nets, regardless of what happens outside the hardwood, I’m high on them on run they’re about to make in the playoffs.