Kyrie's Back

Excellent ownership. And accountability. Not really.

Jim Rome
January 20, 2021 - 11:41 am
Kyrie Irving

USA Today


We have a Kyrie Irving sighting. And this time, it wasn’t unmasked at a birthday party. Or on a zoom call for a district attorney candidate. This time it was actually at something involving the Brooklyn Nets, you know, his job.

Irving showed up yesterday to meet with the media in advance of his return to actually playing…BUT….BUT…. If you thought you were going to get an explanation for what happened, you were begging.

Because Irving is ready to put that all in the past. And by putting that in the past, I mean not answering a single question about where the hell he’s been and what the hell he’s been doing. I mean, other than partying with the fam maskless, and zooming for a D.A. Candidate: quote, “Happy to be back, happy to be around these guys. Addressed the team, addressed everybody that needed to be addressed. Now it’s time to move on.

Excellent ownership. And accountability. Way to lead from the front, superstar. In other words, if you were wondering why an alleged team leader wasn’t around for ten percent of the season, that’s on you, not on him. Those seven games that he missed? That’s in the past. It’s time for you to live in the now.  N-O-W, NOW. 

Because, and I’m sure Kyrie would be the first to tell you: The past is history, the future is a mystery, but the present is a gift. And the real gift for all of you is that Kyrie Irving is back. So just get over the fact that he wasn’t there for a while. Stop bringing it up. Stop asking him about why he let go the rope and abandoned the fight for ten percent of the season. None of your damn business. And he’s not going there anyway. 

The closest he ever got to an explanation was that he "had a lot of family and personal stuff going on. So, just want to leave it at that."

Thing is, I respect that. If that’s what that was. I completely and totally respect that he had some family and personal stuff going on. And if he was taking time away from the team to deal with serious family matters that makes a lot of sense and it’s a great explanation.

But that doesn’t explain the video of him at a birthday party without a mask during a pandemic. I’m not saying that you can’t walk and chew gum at the same time, I’m not saying that you can’t be dealing with serious family and personal stuff, and that you can’t celebrate a birthday in the middle of that, but surely you recognize just how terrible a look that is, right? How bad the optics are, right?

Surely you know that "had a lot of family and personal stuff going on” isn’t exactly a great explanation for the birthday party mask thing.

Because what everyone saw was the video of you partying without a mask and then showing up at a DA candidate’s zoom call. Those two incidents don’t exactly line up with “family and personal stuff” that you needed to tend to. In fact, it almost sounds and looks like you took time off for a birthday party.

Again, I know you were gone for longer than just those two incidents and nobody has any idea what you were going through and dealing with during all the hours and days that you weren’t on camera for those two incidents, but you can see why people would think that was kind of weird. Especially since you’re not saying what you were doing that whole time.

He did apologize to fans, sort of.

“The fans out there, I want to apologize to them, as well. My commitment has always been to bring something special to Brooklyn. It wasn’t just a championship. It was unity, equality, just bigger things than just the game itself. It took quite a while and quite a few valleys to get back home, initially … and I’m back, I’m happy to be back. We got some great pieces and we just move on, and I let my actions and my game speak for itself like I planned on doing. Just needed a pause.”

And it’s the last part of that which might come back to haunt him, the part about just needing a pause. And let me be very clear, I understand needing a pause. It is really important.

One of the most significant moments in sports and really in society in the last few years has been Demar DeRozan talking about some of his mental health challenges and being a leader in that space. And then Kevin Love joining him. And then more athletes following suit.

As a society, we have come so far when it comes to addressing mental health challenges in the last few years and normalizing talking about those issues. So if Kyrie needed to take some time away from the team to tend to a matter like this, I fully support it.

It’s just there’s a disconnect between that and partying without a mask. That doesn’t quite line up.

Initially, there had been speculation that Irving’s absence had been connected to the storming of the Capitol two weeks ago, but Irving said those were assumptions made by people who don’t know him.

At the same time, he also made the point that: “With everything going on in the world politically, socially, like I said, it’s hard to ignore. I want to make change daily. There are so many oppressed communities, so many things going on that are bigger than just a ball going in the rim. For me, like I said, it’s just a balance of it … So I’m grateful to unify with others. And that’s all I tried to do. And on the court, the same way — just play with a smile, leave something that I’ve felt very dear to my heart with this game. And whatever my legacy is after that, as a person, that’s all I really care about.”

Again, I want to be clear, this is a guy who has done a lot for the community. There’s the support he’s given to food banks, to his high school, to WNBA players, his appearance at Standing Rock. I could go on. It really is impressive.

He’s also been a terrible teammate at times and a flat-earth truther or a flat earth truther prankster, so it’s kind of hard to know what to think. And when he disappears from the team for seven games and his head coach appears to not know why for some period of time, it’s really hard to figure out what is happening. 

In other words, Kyrie, I’m trying like hell to give you the benefit of the doubt, but given your track record, you can see why it’s almost impossible to do so.  Given how your actions don’t always line up with your words, it’s almost impossible to do so.  Given, that won’t actually say what you were doing or what you were dealing with other than in the vaguest of terms, you can SEE where people might be skeptical.  So welcome back, I guess, from wherever you were and whatever you were doing.  Just remember, this isn’t your team, its’ K.D’s and he wanted james harden so you’re just going to have share the ball with both them, accept that you’re not the franchise but rather a number three, and somehow find a way to get along and make it work. Because anything short of the NBA Finals is a failure.