Skip to main content

Kyrie Irving apparently feels that he is being rooked out of personal time he could perhaps be using to binge The Queen’s Gambit on Netflix. That’s the best guess as to the motivation of the Brooklyn Nets guard for complaining this week about having to deal with the media.

Distaste for discourse with the Fourth Estate proved costly to Irving, who is entering his 10th pro season. The NBA fined Irving and the Nets $25,000 apiece for his determination to dodge reporters. The next move belongs to Irving, and we should know before long whether the chess game continues into the season and becomes costly.

Kyrie Irving has posted some solid numbers

After just about the shortest possible college career, 11 games at Duke in a season limited by injuries, Kyrie Irving made a seamless transition into the NBA. Selected No. 1 overall by the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2011, Irving averaged 18.5 points and 5.4 rebounds as a rookie.

The Cavaliers traded Irving to the Celtics after six seasons, and he enjoyed two of his best seasons in Boston. He averaged 24.1 points and 6.1 assists in 127 games. Irving signed with the Brooklyn Nets before last season but played just 20 games.

For his career, Irving has averaged 22.4 points, 5.7 assists, and 3.7 rebounds in 528 games. The No. 1 knock on him has been durability. Irving has averaged just 58.7 games a season in the NBA after that injury-shortened stay with the Duke Blue Devils. In fact, he’s played more than 60 games in a season only four times in nine years.

Nets fans are eagerly awaiting the pairing of Irving, a career 39.0% shooter on 3-pointers, with Kevin Durant in the upcoming season. Ironically, Durant is coming off a season-long absence while recovering from an injury in his final season with the Golden State Warriors.

Kyle Irving isn’t happy

The NBA fined both Kyrie Irving and the Brooklyn Nets $25,000 this week over the point guard’s refusal to attend required media availabilities. Considering the fact that he is one year into a four-year, $136.9 million contract with the Nets, the fine isn’t going to break Irving.

Under normal circumstances, the NBA requires teams to make players available to reporters before or after games and practices. With the COVID-19 pandemic continuing to grip the country, rules have been relaxed a bit, but teams have been making a few players available each day. ESPN reported that Irving has been declining interview requests since Dec. 1.

Irving, 28, put out a brief statement last week saying he was “committed to show up to work every day, ready to have fun, compete, perform, and win championships alongside my teammates and colleagues in the Nets organization.”

While the internet and social media have given athletes and coaches a way to communicate directly with fans, that does not mean that the questions that are being asked and answered are the ones that broader audiences are interested in. Asking those questions has been the role of the media.

Chess great Garry Kasparov offered a funny response

After being informed of the NBA’s fine, too small for him to file a grievance, Kyle Irving reacted on Instagram:

“I pray we utilize the ‘fine money’ for the marginalized communities in need, especially seeing where our world is presently,” Irving wrote. “(I am) here for Peace, Love, and Greatness. So stop distracting me and my team, and appreciate the Art. We move different over here.

“I do not talk to Pawns. My attention is worth more.”

Kyrie Irving

That sounds somewhere between sheer arrogance — art with a capital “A” is a bit much – and childish behavior. Part of his response quoted Malcolm X, and some league observers weren’t impressed with Irving.

Irving’s words led to a slightly cheeky reaction from all-time chess great Garry Kasparov, who held the world’s No. 1 ranking from 1984 to 2005.

“There’s nothing wrong with talking to pawns. It’s when they start answering that you have a problem!”

Garry Kasparov

All stats courtesy of Basketball Reference