It was a little over sixteen months ago when the toe of Kevin Durant’s sneaker was on the line at the end of Game 6 against the Bucks, and the Nets were that close to going to the Eastern Conference finals, and maybe to a title after that. Now, this soon, they have become the traveling circus of the NBA, with Kyrie Irving acting the head clown. Somebody should explain to Joe Tsai, the owner of the Nets, that this is what can happen when you’ve got the wrong stars running the show. Everybody can end up looking like clowns.
Now they are all stuck with each other, unless Tsai has finally had enough with Irving, who has somehow turned being a basketball star into a sideline as he works full-time looking to set dumpster fires on social media, as if the guy is having some kind of allergic reaction to a vaccine shot he never received.
He sabotaged one Nets season because of his anti-vaxx stance. Now he seems bound and determined to do the same to this one, as he tweets out old theories from a bedbug like Alex Jones and directs millions of his social media followers to a movie that is anti-just-about-everything civil and decent and humane called “Hebrews to Negroes: Wake Up Black America.”
He’s the one who needs to wake up and realize once and for all that he’s not the deep thinker that he likes to think he is. Or as real as he likes to think he is. That’s what Kanye West called Kyrie the other day: Real. Yeah. A real horse’s ass.
“I am an OMNIST,” Kyrie tweets the other day, “and I meant no disrespect to anyone’s religious beliefs.”
Maybe he should have thought about that, inside a head so often full of sky, before he directed traffic to Amazon page for a movie stuffed, as Rolling Stone pointed out last week, with “antisemitic tropes.” But this is Tsai’s secondary star. This is the player, along with Durant, to whom Tsai, a rich and powerful and very smart guy, turned over the Brooklyn Nets.
The Lakers, another team that briefly looked like one of those NBA super teams, are just bad. But at least they won a title once LeBron got to town, and before hitting the skids. The Nets have already come as close, at least with Durant and Irving playing together, as they ever will. And before long the two of them might be gone, and the general manager, Sean Marks, might be gone. So might the coach, Steve Nash. The way James Harden is long gone.
But the (clown) face of this disaster is Irving.
Marks, with Tsai’s backing, was so flop-sweat desperate to make the Nets into something more than the city’s junior varsity to the Knicks that he practically begged Durant and Irving to take the owner’s money. In the end, though, this is on Durant as much as it is his bosses. He’s the one who made Irving his hand-picked wingman, maybe because it was Irving who had once been the one to make the biggest shot of LeBron’s career, the night the Cavs took a Game 7 off the Golden State Warriors.
Durant was desperate himself, to show that he was as great as LeBron; that he could win without Steph Curry and the rest of the talent he had around him with the Warriors, whether he was the MVP of the Finals or not. He knew the perception, fair or not, was always going to be that he went to the Warriors for easy rings, that he couldn’t carry the whole thing the way LeBron did in Miami, and then in Cleveland, and finally with the Lakers.
He’d seen LeBron with Kyrie, even though Kyrie ultimately whined his way out of Cleveland before doing the exact same thing with the Celtics, any one of whom would have driven him to Logan Airport when he was out his way out of there. But here’s the thing about Marks, and Durant:
They knew who Kyrie was. Who he is. People in outer space know that by now. If Durant especially didn’t know, he was the only one who didn’t. Here they came to Brooklyn anyway. They were going to take over the whole town, all of Basketball New York. And nearly did. But only for a blink. Now they have turned into this kind of league-wide joke, this kind of big-city joke even over on their side of the East River, and there is no turning back, because even if Tsai and Marks cut Irving today, you can never make up that money in the modern NBA. You are royally and thoroughly screwed.
This isn’t a free speech issue. It’s about Irving acting like this kind of ill-informed meathead, by even tweeting out a link to a hate-filled movie like that, in a world where a guy in a full Nazi outfit walks into a bar in lower Manhattan, and the meathead armies of the right make jokes about the husband of the Speaker of the House being beaten into brain surgery with a hammer. Maybe Kyrie Irving did leave Duke way, way too soon.
So Irving is cheered on by the likes of Kanye West, which ought to tell him plenty, and tries to blame the media for his problems, and continues to be the face and the voice of the Nets. Until he is somebody else’s problem. OMNISTS, by definition, seek to unite people of all faiths and creeds. In a way, Kyrie Irving has done that. Just not in a way he ever imagined, no matter how good he is at basketball.
You make the world smarter, or dumber. Time for Kyrie to finally pick a side. Unless he already has.