Kyrie Irving is a talker. Maya Moore is a doer. Irving, a member of the Brooklyn Nets sidelined with a likely season-ending shoulder injury, wants to be a leader. Maya Moore, one of the most accomplished women’s basketball players ever, leads by example. Irving says he wants to make a difference. Moore is.
Kyrie Irving is not a leader
When Kyrie Irving became a member of the Boston Celtics, it became his team. Finally out from the shadow of LeBron James with the Cleveland Cavaliers, Irving became a member of the Celts for the 2017-18 season. Boston embraced him and gave him a resounding ovation when, at a gathering for season-ticket members, he said he would be re-signing with the team. He bolted after two years.
In his two years in Boston, the injury-plagued Irving missed the games when it counted most – the playoffs. He was out during the Celtics playoff run in 2018 when the team thrived without him. Boston reached Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals. The following season, the Celtics were embarrassed by the Milwaukee Bucks in the Eastern Conference semis with Irving on the court. According to CBS Sports, after shooting 7-for-22 from the floor in a Game 4 loss, Irving quipped, “Who cares?” He left the game early before it was officially over. When confronted after the game, he said, “The game was over.” He followed that up with a 6-for-21 performance in a Game 5 that ended the Celtics season.
With Irving, there was locker room tension the Celtics hadn’t seen in a while, if at all. Marcus Morris, a teammate of Irving’s in Boston, was asked about that tension right after Morris signed with the New York Knicks. “The teams are different. We don’t have that one guy where it’s like, okay, he’s first,” Morris told the New York Daily News. “It’s a team thing. No knock on Ky, but obviously he’s a superstar, he’s first. Sometimes his emotions were put in front of the team.”
Irving ‘willing to give up everything’ for social reform
During a conference call Friday, Kyrie Irving said he was opposed to the league resuming at the end of July. Irving’s concerns about the league getting together in Orlando didn’t appear to have much to do with health concerns over the pandemic. The NBPA had agreed to move forward with the league’s plan to continue the season.
Irving then stepped in and organized a conference call to voice his displeasure over the league trying to play basketball at a time when racial tensions are high. “I don’t support going into Orlando. I’m not with the systematic racism and the bull**it. Something smells a little fishy,” Shams Charania tweeted Irving as saying.
Irving thinks playing basketball will be a distraction to the task at hand – fighting racial inequality. Irving said he was “willing to give up everything I have (to fight social reform).” Would Irving truly give up his basketball career and his millions of dollars to fight social reform?
Maya Moore did give it all up
After a very accomplished college basketball career at UConn where she was twice named the AP Player of the Year, Maya Moore went on to become the first overall pick in the 2011 WNBA draft, selected by the Minnesota Lynx. She continued her success in the WNBA, winning four titles and was named the league’s MVP in 2014.
Moore walked away from the game two years ago to fight for what she believes in. She gave up her career to focus on family, ministry, and advocacy for criminal justice reform. Moore was influenced by her great-uncle’s work in prison ministry and she fought for Jonathan Irons, whom Moore believed was wrongfully convicted. Moore befriended Irons, who was 16 when convicted of his crime, and attending his hearings. In March, Irons’ conviction was overturned by a judge, giving Moore her biggest win.
“She saved my life,” said Irons, who is now 40 years old and has spent 23 years behind bars, to CBS Sports. “I would not have had this chance if not for her and her wonderful family.”
“It is so sweet to see the redemption that came from stepping away and giving what I had to this case,” Moore said in the New York Times. “It feels like we are holding up that Final Four trophy, but there are still a couple of steps.”