For several reasons, Brooklyn Nets point guard Kyrie Irving is one of the most polarizing players in the NBA. What he does on the basketball court is simply mesmerizing, as Irving is a magician with the ball in his hands and one of the best scorers in the league.
However, it’s what Irving says and does off the court, which rubs a lot of people the wrong way, particularly the media who covers the All-Star guard. Ever since Irving requested a trade from the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2017—ending his three-year run with LeBron James—the former No. 1 overall pick has made some questionable comments to the media, which has affected his reputation in the NBA.
The first game of the 2020-21 regular season hasn’t taken place yet, but Kyrie Irving has managed to find himself in the news for controversial reasons.
Kyrie Irving issues statement instead of speaking to media
On Dec. 4, Kyrie Irving issued a statement to the media instead of speaking to reporters on Zoom. The one-time champion, along with the Nets, was fined $25,000 for failure to comply with the league’s media rules, according to Malika Andrews of ESPN.
After Irving was fined by the NBA, he took to Instagram and said he hopes the fine money goes to “marginalized communities in need.” The Nets star also said he doesn’t talk to “pawns” and that his attention is better served elsewhere.
Irving’s relationship with the media took a turn after he requested a trade from the Cavs. National pundits ripped Uncle Drew for wanting to leave a team with LeBron James on it. Cleveland went to three straight Finals with James and Irving leading the way on offense.
The Cavs won the 2016 title over the Golden State Warriors, becoming the first team in NBA history to erase a 3-1 series deficit in the Finals. Irving hit the game-winning shot over Warriors superstar Stephen Curry in Game 7, while LeBron won Finals MVP.
During his two years on the Boston Celtics, Irving was a polarizing figure due to his strange comments to the media, his inability to be a leader, and his fake promise to Celtics fans. Before the start of the 2018-19 season, Irving told the TD Garden crowd he was going to re-sign with Boston during the summer of 2019, only to go back on his word and join the Nets.
Kyrie Irving got blasted for not wanting to talk to the media
NBA pundits went off on Kyrie Irving after he refused to speak to the media. From ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith to Hall of Famer Charles Barkley, no one was shying away from bashing Irving.
While Irving wound up talking to the media and was rather polite, he still has a bad rep with many reporters because of the way he initially acted. In the media business, some columnists will hold onto grudges for a long time.
In his first season with the Nets in 2019-20, Irving averaged 27.4 points, 5.2 rebounds, and 6.4 assists per game. He shot 47.8% from the field, 39.4% from beyond the arc, and 92.2% from the free-throw line in the 20 games he appeared in before undergoing season-ending shoulder surgery.
With two-time Finals MVP Kevin Durant in the lineup next to Kyrie Irving this upcoming season, the Nets are expected to compete for a championship. Even though they may not like him, the media can’t deny Irving’s basketball talent.
Nets guard has done so many good things for the community
It’s nearly impossible to hate on Kyrie Irving the person when you take into consideration all the charity work he’s done. Just because the six-time All-Star doesn’t have a good rapport with the NBA media, doesn’t mean reporters should just ignore all the special things Irving has done off the court.
While he can be a mercurial player to cover, there is no debating that Irving is an outstanding human being. He has no selfish intentions and wants to do right by others, which is why he’s donated so much money to people and communities in need.
Even if he talks to the media during the entire 2020-21 season, Kyrie Irving is still going to get a lot of hate due to his past actions. However, as long as he’s focused on winning a title in Brooklyn, that’s all the Nets really care about at the end of the day.
Stats courtesy of Basketball Reference.