Last Friday, Brooklyn Nets point guard Kyrie Irving organized a conference call with pro-basketball players from both the WNBA and the NBA.
The purpose of the call was for players to voice their concerns regarding the NBA’s decision to resume play in Orlando next month. The task force’s mission has been to explore solutions for players reluctant to speak out. Irving, a Vice President of the NBA’s Players Association was joined by Player Association President Chris Paul on the call.
According to multiple reports, during Friday’s conference call, Irving stated: “I don’t support going into Orlando. I’m not with the systematic racism and the bullshit …
“Something smells a little fishy. Whether we want to admit it or not, we are targeted as black men every day we wake up.”
The internet went abuzz when Kendrick Perkins, Irving’s former Cleveland Cavaliers teammate and a current ESPN analyst critiqued Irving’s decisions. “If you take Kyrie Irving’s brain and put it in a bird right now, guess what that bird is going to do?” asked Perkins.
“It’s going to fly backwards, because Kyrie right now is confused.
“He’s showing his lack of leadership. Here it is: Kyrie, you have been on these conference calls over the last two months. You’re the vice president of the Players Association. You have been very involved in all this that’s taking place as far as whether we’re going to play or not. You’ve been on the phone and you voted to play!”
Appearing on today’s episode of the Scoop B Radio Podcast, Perkins discussed his assesment of Irving. “At the time was it appropriate,” asked Perkins. “Absolutely not. Now thinking back on it, no.”
As it stands now, the NBA will resume play on July 31. Teams will compete to fill the league’s 16-NBA Playoff spots in both the NBA’s Eastern and Western Conferences with the NBA Finals slated to finish no later than October 12. “Kyrie in my eyes in my opinion, he’s confused,” Kendrick Perkins tells Scoop B Radio.
“And he’s confused as a leader. I’m standing behind it and here’s why: As a leader and as a vice president of the NBA Players Association, you’re at that top of the top when dealing with 400 players in the NBA. You’re representing retired players, and players that are current players and everything right? So, everything has to have a strategic plan. Does that make sense?… Everything has to make sense. Everything has to go through a process – just like when the NBA and the Players Association and the way that Chris Paul and Michelle Roberts was handling things for as whether or not if the NBA season was going to return. That took like a two month process. That took days and hours of phone conversations, talking with other players; and here it is, Kyrie was part of those conversations, ok? He was part of those conversations. He was on the phone. And he was on the phone agreeing that basketball should return, ok? He was one of those guys. He placed the vote that basketball should return. And here it is today, taking it last week, Kyrie also was the guy who’s on record saying that, “Hey, I want to go in the bubble. Can inactive players go to the bubble? I want to be there to support my team.” I actually applauded Kyrie for that on The Jump last week for that. And I said, “Wow! Kyrie is really standing up as a leader. Here it is he’s knowing that he’s not going to play, but he wanna go to the bubble and just be around his team. That’s taking steps forward to being a leader.” Okay, and so whatever reason, within the next seven or eight days you change your mind, you came all of the sudden without consulting the Player’s Association; Michelle Roberts and your president Chris Paul and you form a whole other conference call with somebody else and you tell them that you want to – we should basically start boycotting the league, right? Okay. That’s cool. You can have that. Whatever.”
In addition to Irving and Chris Paul, the Portland Trail Blazers’ Damian Lillard, Carmelo Anthony and C.J. McCollum were participants on the conference call. So was his Nets teammate, Kevin Durant, the Utah Jazz’s Donovan Mitchell and the Orlando Magic’s Mo Bamba.
Irving has made it clear privately and in conference call meetings that he is on a united front with his NBA bretheren and specifically with Avery Bradley. It has been told to me that the focus of his motives are centered around equality for Blacks and injustices in the country in cases like Breonna Taylor and George Floyd. “Listen, I am an African-American that stays in the community of 30 houses and I’m the only African-American and with four African-American kids – by the way,” Kendrick Perkins tells Scoop B Radio.
“We just had an incident 2 miles away from my house – an African American teenager was lynched in an elementary school. They found his body hanging. So, I’m all in for changing America, make no mistake about it. So but, it’s always this old saying, “It’s not what you do, it’s how you do it.” And the way you go about is, it’s a process. You just don’t come up overnight and start an all separate group. For one, that means the Union is not on the same page and that’s divided and it makes us look bad as a Union. Two, okay if you come up with this idea, what is the plan after it? What is the plan? Like, I wanna know the plan. Like, you gotta have all your ducks in a row. You gotta have a strategic plan – okay you tell those guys to hey don’t go, let’s sit out and make a statement…okay, what is the plan afterwards? Do the Players Association have enough money to fund some of the guys that haven’t made money – like those who haven’t made millions of dollars just yet or the newcomers in the NBA; the two-way players and the second rounders. Do you have money to help fund them so that they can pay their bills? Like, what else is next? What is our stance? What are we trying to get out of it? Because just saying that, that’s not hurting us. It’s not hurting the owners. That’s hurting us. Because guess what? The NBA is made up of 80 percent African-Americans. So you’re telling me that not going to work and not going getting that money so that those African-Americans to make money to put back into the community which is what the NBA Players Union does so well, you gotta give me a plan behind that. Other than that, I can’t roll with it.”