Column: Kyrie Irving’s Consequences Unwarranted

Brooklyn Nets Guard, Kyrie Irving.

Cyle Sullivan II
UJW-DC Spring 2022

The media has scrutinized Kyrie Irving, seven-time All-Star and NBA champion since he commented on the Earth being flat and his 2017 departure from Cleveland to Boston. This happened after Irving said he would stay in Cleveland and then left for Boston the following season. Irving did the same thing to Boston in 2019, where he said he would remain in Boston and then go to the Brooklyn Nets the next season. While the media painted Irving as the villain, he was the hero from the 2016 NBA Finals, draining the big shot over Stephen Curry to win the seventh and final game. Ben Golliver, a reporter for the Washington Post who has covered Irving since his senior year in high school, where Irving was a McDonald’s All-American, says throughout his years of covering Irving, he has shown to be a stubborn person and hard to get to when it comes to the media. Irving’s words and actions have impacted how the press and people view him. With his most recent actions of choosing not to get vaccinated and interactions with the media and sports fans, Irving is seen as the villain of the NBA and that he isn’t a good person even though many other people haven’t been vaccinated and have chosen not to for personal reasons. 

Boston Celtics’ guard Marcus Smart is guarding Kyrie Irving. (Al Bello)

But ever since Irving’s departure from Cleveland, people instantly portrayed him as the bad guy even back then for leaving his former Cavaliers’ teammate, Lebron James, but most people forget about all the great things Irving’s done on and off the court. This season, the Nets’ point guard averaged and tied with his highest points per game in his career at nearly 28. In 2019, he averaged 6.4 ast and 5.2 total rebounds, which are his second-highest assist total and first highest rebound totals, even though he only played a quarter of the season games. Irving was the 2012 NBA Rookie of the Year, 2014 NBA All-Star Game MVP, and 2016 Summer Olympics Gold Medal. The things on the court make him great, but the stuff off the court also makes him even greater. While Irving received extreme criticism from the media, he bought a home for George Floyd’s family, built a solar-powered water plant in a village in Pakistan, and donated food and masks to the Standing Rock Sioux tribe. 

A letter from General Manager Sean Marks on April 27, 2022 (@brooklynnets) 

Irving has been judged and alluded to as delusional, specifically said by ESPN commentator Steven A. Smith, and has been called other things to the point to make Irving fire back at the fans and media. Irving is a human being and has the right to say whatever he wants. Maybe some things that Irving has said have been questionable to the world, but the things he’s said were his decision to speak on live television. I can understand Irving’s frustration if the media and fans look at him differently. His past and new teammates or coaches, such as Lebron James, Kevin Durant, James Harden, Steve Nash, and Tyrone Lue, haven’t been critical of Irving or his decisions. We, as fans and spectators, shouldn’t say anything either. Besides, many other great NBA players have said or done very controversial things and are rarely talked about. As fans, we should give Irving his respect and understand that whatever his opinion is, we have to accept it.


Founded in 1975, the Washington Association of Black Journalists is an organization of Black journalists, journalism professors, public relations professionals and student journalists in the D.C., metro area. WABJ provides members with ongoing professional education opportunities and advocates for greater diversification of the profession.