Kyrie's Back In The News

Truly bizarre.

Jim Rome
January 13, 2021 - 10:56 am
Kyrie Irving

USA Today


The NBA is currently in a very, very tough spot when it comes to COVID. Numerous positive tests, multiple games being postponed, and now new, RIGID, protocols are going in place in an attempt to deal with it. Every team in the league needs to deal with these new rules, including the Brooklyn Nets. But the Nets are the only team in the league that has to deal with another item:

Kyrie Irving. 

The guy who seemed to be claiming that he could be a player-coach back in the offseason didn’t play for the Nets last night’s game against Denver. He didn’t play in the game before that or the game before that or the game before that. So, last night was the fourth straight game that he missed. And he’s expected to miss tonight’s game against New York and Saturday’s against Orlando. Not one, not two, not three, not four, not five, maybe six.

Six games is a decent chunk of the season. By Saturday, the Nets will have played 14 games and Irving will have missed six straight.

So what is it? Injury? Positive test? Answer: not sure. Nobody really knows. It’s been called “personal leave.” So what does that personal leave involve? It’s not exactly clear. And when is it over? That’s not exactly clear either.

But there was the video that surfaced of Kyrie on Monday night, partying, maskless at his sister’s birthday party in Orange, New Jersey.

I’m all for celebrating your sister’s birthday. That’s great. That’s awesome. Family comes first. But, maybe, and hear me out on this, maybe partying maskless during a pandemic is not the best idea of all time. Especially given the NBA’s rules on COVID.

And maybe partying maskless at your sister’s birthday party during a pandemic isn’t the best idea when you’ve been away from the team for a week on personal leave. Again, it’s not my business. If someone says they’re off on personal leave, I’m going to assume that they are dealing with some painful, challenging personal matters and they need time away to focus on that. I mean, if you’re leaving your teammates, in the middle of the season, you must be dealing with some really jacked up stuff. 

So how does your sister’s birthday party figure into that? Was the “personal leave” so that you could plan the party? Doubt that. Doubt that he abandoned his teammates and coaches so he could go over the guest list, get some of that candles that re-lighting you try to blow them and hiring balloon artist. Doubt he left to do all that. Then again, maybe he did; because while he’s not saying why he’s not there, we can see where he actually was. Partying with the FAM, maskless, when he was supposed to be out as result of personal issues. Just Kyrie doing Kyrie things. And when asked about it, Nets gm Sean Marks issued the following statement: “we are aware (of the video). Kyrie remains away from the team for personal reasons. A date of his return has yet to be finalized.”

It’s never good when a team has to release a statement that reads in part “we are aware of the video.” But till better than Coach Steve Nash saying initially he had not seen the video. That has to be a lie. And if it’s not a lie, it’s a really bad thing.  Just like quote, being aware of a video: when someone is quote aware of a video, it’s never that they’re aware of a highlight video; or aware that something awesome happened: if they’re aware, that means someone was in the wrong at the wrong time, doing the wrong thing and probably put themselves there. 

Speaking of Nash…but if you thought that statement from the Nets was bad, check the latest response from the coach. Yesterday, Joe Vardon asked Nash if he was sure, or at least confident, that Kyrie would return at some point this season.

“Uhh, sure. Like I said, right now I got to focus on coaching this team and getting the best out of them. I can’t make any predictions or prognostications about things outside of this building.”

Uh-oh! That’s not good. Below not good. Note – the question wasn’t are you sure that Kyrie will play this week. Or even this month. It was will he play this season and the response was “uhh, sure.”

That’s not exactly a stone cold lock, yes, you can take that to the bank response. Which makes all of this even more weird. And even more Kyrie.  

I also want to take a step back for a moment and point out that Kyrie has a very strong record of philanthropy. That is not up for debate here. Time and time again, he has stepped up for people in need and that is awesome.

But that doesn’t change the fact that what he’s doing now is truly bizarre. And very Kyrie.

The Kyrie experience is a wild mix of generosity and selfishness, of wanting to talk a lot to the media and then of blaming the media for what he says. Of being a great player and a truly strange teammate.

And just when you didn’t think it could get more Kyrie, my man outdid himself last night. The Nets were playing the Nuggets last night at 7:30. Kyrie wasn’t at the arena, again. Instead, at 7pm, he was spotted on a zoom call that served as a volunteer organizing event for a candidate for district attorney for Manhattan.

He was spotted there at 7pm and logged out at 7:26pm, four minutes before tipoff for the Nets.

Again, he’s away on personal leave and I want to be very respectful of that, but at the same time, it doesn’t seem like Kyrie is being very respectful of that. Partying maskless and taking part in campaign zoom calls are not exactly the definition of “personal leave.”

Especially when your teammates are out, battling and trying to get over and stay over, .500. This season was supposed to be the start of something special. This was supposed to be the start of KD and Kyrie. And it has been anything but that.

I don’t know what Kyrie’s dealing with right now. And I’m trying really hard to respect it and give him the benefit of the doubt, because these are really challenging times for everyone.  Including star athletes. But he’s making it awfully hard to give him the benefit of the doubt when he’s showing partying with his FAM, maskless and spending time on zoom call with a candidate for district attorney right before his team tips. That doesn’t sound like he’s dealing with personal issues, it sounds like he bailed on his team to do, well, whatever the hell wants. It doesn’t selfless, it sounds selfish.

You have a job to do. You are contracted to do that job. That means you don't just show up when you feel like it or when you want to. It does mean that if you are dealing with something serious in your personal life, you can take a step away, but probably shouldn't be using that time to party and do campaign zoom calls

But even beyond the contract with the team, you're supposed to have a contract with your teammates that you will show up for them and they will show up for you. And right now, it sure seems like you aren't honoring your side of that deal.

It’s distinctly possible that he might not want to play basketball anymore. I could understand that. There might be other things that feel more important to him at this point in time. I get that too. But if that’s the case, he at least owes it to his coach and his teammates to say what’s up. Because it seems less than awesome to be leaving your first year head coach hanging and having him saying things like “uhh, sure” when asked if you will even show up at all this year.

And the longer this goes, the worse it gets for Kyrie and the Nets. Because according to WOJ, even if he wanted to come back tonight, that wouldn’t be possible because the league would step in and make sure there was a significant quarantine following the extended absence and the partying without a mask video.

This whole thing is the most Kyrie thing of all time. And I am so looking forward to seeing how it ends and then how he chastises and lectures everyone for how they covered it. To quote Bart Scott, can’t wait!