On paper, the Brooklyn Nets have one of the NBA’s best one-two punches in the form of Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant. The former man, however, might not be hitting the hardwood for a while. The guard recently left the team for “personal reasons” and, during his absence, may have been caught on video violating COVID-19 protocols.
While it goes without saying that partying while your team is playing games isn’t a good look for anyone. Kyrie Irving’s problems, however, might just be getting started; in addition to damaging his legacy, his latest behavior could also hurt the guard’s bottom line.
Kyrie Irving might have been partying rather than playing for the Nets
During any season, let alone one during a pandemic, most NBA players will miss a handful of games. Kyrie Irving, however, seems to be in the midst of a unique situation.
After getting off to a hot start to the season, Irving didn’t show up for the Nets’ game with the 76ers on January 7; at the time, head coach Steve Nash said that he didn’t know what the guard’s issue was and, while he did reach out, hadn’t heard back. Irving hasn’t dressed for a game since then due to what the Nets are calling “personal reasons.”
While there’s nothing wrong with missing games due to personal problems, Irving’s behavior during his absence has raised some eyebrows.
First, a video surfaced on the Internet that appeared to show the guard celebrating a family birthday; if the guard was really partying in a nightclub, he would be in violation of the league’s COVID-19 protocols. Then, on January 12, he appeared to join a Zoom party for a New York City district attorney candidate; as the New York Post pointed out, the meeting took place less than an hour before the Nets’ date with the Denver Nuggets.
Doing even more damage to a less-than-ideal legacy
During his time in the NBA, Kyrie Irving has proven himself to be a talented player. He’s also unfortunately built up somewhat of a reputation as something less than a team player.
Irving, of course, requested a trade from the Cleveland Cavaliers so that he could be the star of his own team. He joined the Boston Celtics but eventually fell out with that franchise, too; the guard failed to lead the team to the promised land and, according to reports, didn’t act like much of a leader behind the scenes.
In Brooklyn, Irving continued to make headlines for things other than basketball. During the summer of 2020, he took issue with the NBA bubble, despite not being involved in the playoffs; some took his comments to be hypocritical since he had nothing to lose by not playing. When the new season began, he said that he wasn’t going to engage with the media.
For all of his ‘controversies’ though, Irving does seem to be a pretty generous guy; during the past year alone, he’s donated plenty of money and resources to those affected by COVID-19. Even that piece of positive reputation could be losing some shine, though. As Barbara Barker of Newsday pointed out, though, it’s not the best look to be flaunting safety guidelines during that same pandemic.
Kyrie Irving’s actions could also hurt his bottom line
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At this point, it’s safe to assume that Kyrie Irving’s reputation is probably set; you either think he’s a talented, if quirky, player or someone interested in everything other than playing basketball. His recent behavior, however, can still change one thing: his bottom line.
According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the NBA is looking into the video that appeared to show Irving at a birthday party; if he’s found guilty of violating league protocol, he’ll forfeit 1/81.6 of his salary for every game that he misses while self-isolating. That would shake out to $410,000 per game, based on his current contract.
While you could cynically argue that a few million dollars doesn’t mean much to an NBA player, no one wants to hand over their paycheck due to a dumb decision. In all likelihood, though, that’s the situation Kyrie Irving will soon find himself in.