Last month, the NBA’s Board of Governors elected to resume the 2019-20 NBA season at Disney World in Orlando, Florida.
Beginning July 31, 22 teams will compete to fill the league’s 16-NBA Playoff spors in both the NBA’s Eastern and Western Conferences with the NBA Finals slated to finish no later than October 12.
Then Kyrie Irving spoke.
A member of the Cleveland Cavaliers‘ championship team in 2016, Irving organized a conference call with 200 pro-basketball players from both the WNBA and the NBA.
In addition to Irving’s Nets teammate, Kevin Durant, the Portland Trail Blazers’ Damian Lillard, Carmelo Anthony and C.J. McCollum are also said to have been part of the diaogue along with the Los Angeles Lakers’ Dwight Howard. While on the 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.”
Irving has been the topic of sports radio and televsion all weekend and on Monday, Kendrick Perkins, Irving’s former Cleveland Cavaliers teammate said Irving’s voice is not a powerful voice.
“He’s not a powerful voice; he’s a popular voice,” Perkins said of Irving on CBS Sports Radio’s The DA Show.
“There’s a difference between being powerful and popular. Powerful, you’re actually moving the needle. No one is listening to Kyrie. The NBA is going to continue. All he’s doing is causing unnecessary drama between the NBA brothers that we don’t need right now. Him lashing out is just making news and making a whole bunch of noise for nothing because the NBA season is going to happen. LeBron James wants to play. Chris Paul wants to play. Russell Westbrook wants to play. Anthony Davis, Giannis – when they first voted for the NBA to come back, the vote was 28-0. Everybody wants to play.”
Irving has some supporters though. Insert Nate Robinson.
During our chat via Instagram Live over the weekend, Robinson who starred in Irving’s Uncle Drew film a couple of years ago spoke highly of Irving: “I mean, Kyrie’s a good dude man,” said Robinson.
“He’s smart, he’s very intelligent, he knows himself, he knows what he stands for and what he believes in so, anybody that has a voice and believes in what they speak and what they say and what they do, then more power to you. An individual that always speaks about what he likes and what he believes in so, it’s cool to have somebody in that light; in that – you know, he’s a superstar in this league so, it’s good. It’s time they start opening their ears and listen to the guys that a lot of these kids look up to.”
In an era of the coronavirus pandemic, the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor and in the era of Colin Kaepernick still not being employed by an NFL team, Robinson tells me that he admires today’s NBA player who speaks up. “When I was young, we didn’t have a voice,” he said.
“When we were young we had to be quiet and like, wait your turn to have a voice. Now, they’re popular before they make it to the league and they already have a fan base to be able to speak and let their words be heard. We all should have a voice though. No matter how old, how young, how many years you’ve been in the league…we all believe in something, we all want to stand for something so it’s all good that a lot more people are speaking out and express how they feel, because when I came in, they didn’t care.”
Robinson also shared that the NBA’s return is ‘probably not safe.’
“But people do crazy things,” he said.
“I know the fans want ‘em back. I know a lot of players that want t play, compete and do the things they love, but is it safe? …I don’t know. Probably not. We tend to do a lot of shit that’s not safe. [laughs]…People fucking go bungee jumping and jumping out of planes all the time and that shit ain’t safe, but it’s fun and they do it. So, yeah.”