Dear Kyrie Irving:
I get it. You’re standing on your principles and don’t really care about the money you’ll be losing or also, basketball. It’s very clear that there are things that are more important to you and honestly, there’s nothing anyone can say about that. You are who you are.
You’ve made it abundantly clear that there absolutely is PTO (Personal Time Off) in the NBA, unbeknownst to most of us. And that mental health days are just as important to you as playing in the NBA Finals. With that, you’ve made it easier for other less heralded players to stand in their truth and take leave whenever they feel it’s necessary. For that, I applaud you.
I also applaud you for what you’ve done on the court, hitting one of the biggest shots in the history of the NBA Finals, helping your Cleveland Cavaliers defeat the Golden State Warriors after they’d amassed the best regular season record in the history of the league. However, the record will show when all is said and done that you also left your team at the most inopportune times, including in games where you didn’t want to face your former team, during Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals, in order to be in attendance at both a birthday party and a baby shower, both during a global pandemic. A pandemic world in which we all know now that finds you refusing to be vaccinated. It will unfortunately show your injury record as well, beginning with the injury that shelved you during your one and done freshman year at Duke, and then during your time in Cleveland, Boston, and now Brooklyn.
It will show your comments made throughout your career on controversial subjects, including the inference that Earth is flat. Or the time you campaigned for players to avoid playing in the bubble, even though you were injured and had no intention of showing up anyway. Granted, your main message was for them to just stop the season and instead go protest on the streets in the name of Black Lives Matter, forgoing their salaries in the name of justice. Not gonna lie, I kinda loved you for that. AND for everything you continue to do in the name of philanthropy, helping families with funding and housing and scholarships. That’s pretty dope.
But also… it’s a lot. And all the negative things form a pattern. A bad one. Even if it’s just you being you.
This latest news, where your current team has deemed it necessary to keep you separated from the team until you are fully vaccinated, showing no interest in having you be a part-time player for the organization (even though it would save them roughly half your salary for the year) due to the city ordinances in New York stipulating that all team members must be vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus in order to enter its buildings, really places a line in the sand for you and your personal team. This announcement is seemingly a ploy to have you finally have to make a decision–will you sacrifice for your team or will you stand on your principles, that seem to be bigger than basketball?
I know it’s a lot to think about. You personally recruited the two other bold type names on this team to join you there, in order to assemble and form Voltron and compete at the highest of levels to win multiple championships. And then last season, the first year all three of you were in place, you took enough games off for people to notice and ask questions, and unfortunately injured your ankle during the conference semifinals.
However, that wasn’t that big of a deal, according the Nets fans (well, actually one of my best friends who said that last year didn’t count anyway). THIS season is the one where you all get on the same page and dominate the league. Except, it might not be because as of now, you won’t be there. It’s like someone organizing a birthday party for themselves and not showing up on the day of the event.
Would I want you in my corner if I was facing financial challenges or if I was in need of support as a Black man? Absolutely. Would I want you as a teammate, having to deal with all of the eccentricities that come with that? Absolutely not. You made your bed in Brooklyn and then decided to leave it unmade. You told the team and any potential suitors that you’d rather retire than play for another team, thus handcuffing them to you, for better or for worse. If it’s a marriage, you’re being derelict in your duties.
So, please… continue doing what is best for you. And listen, by the time you read this you might’ve already made your decision and all of it would be moot. Just know that you got the whole world watching, and making what some would consider the wrong decision could fall flat (see what I did there?) Heh.