Kyrie Irving’s been active off the basketball court since the coronavirus pandemic halted play back in March in the NBA.
A source close to Brooklyn Nets PG Kyrie Irving says: “The whole point is to use the platform to make change. Now that there’s basketball being played, the platform being provided is a distraction. We need to be using this unique opportunity to create change.” pic.twitter.com/P3xti6hcMf
— 👑📍Brandon ‘Scoop B’ Robinson, M.A. (@ScoopB) August 26, 2020
Last month, Irving started a $1.5 Million fund to support WNBA players who didn’t want to play in the WNBA’s restart in Florida.
“I think it’s dope,” Bleacher Report’s Arielle Chambers told me on a recent episode of the Scoop B Radio Podcast.
“I think it’s so dope. The NBA side has done great with genuinely caring about the W; genuinely wanting the WNBA to succeed; so Kyrie has always been an advocate for women in general and women’s sports. So as much controversy he’s brought with the bubble situation, he’s ended up doing the right thing when it counts and so, kudos to him because they have the money and it goes to show you the discrepancy. If he can just be like, ‘Here goes $1.5 million dollars. Do with it what you please…’ then to start this whole initiative that not only shows the pay gap, but like thank you to Kyrie Irving for being willing to step up and being the first one; because it could be a trickledown effect being the first one to give his coin where it needs to go.”
Seattle Storm All Star, Sue Bird agrees. “Yeah, I think Kyrie [Irving] is the kind of guy, he sees outside himself a lot of the time,” Bird told Landon Buford.
“Extremely unselfish, and this is just another example of that. Obviously, everyone sees the big number, you know $1.5 million, and they can get caught up in that. To me, what I love about it is the opportunity that all of us, as WNBA players, will have, if we want is to take courses in financial literacy. And that goes beyond just the one-time offering. It goes well beyond that, and I think what he is trying to do is support women, and support the WNBA. Not just now, but long term, and it is admirable.”
One of the Vice Presidents of the NBA’s Player’s Association, Irving, 28, averaged 27.4 points, 5.2 rebounds and 6.4 assists per contest this season in his first year with the Brooklyn Nets.
Irving caught ridicule in June after organizing 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. “I’m not with the systematic racism and the bullsh**,” Irving reportedly said while on the call.
“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 didn’t join the Nets in Orlando and they were swept by the Toronto Raptors in round one of the NBA Playoffs.
While many pay attention to the stars of the NBA that make $10-$30 Million annually, one group of people to remember are the two-way players who’s pay scales are quite different. If there’s a lockout they will be affected. Boycotts are great as long as you have a solid plan. pic.twitter.com/lUkFnH8uwT
— 👑📍Brandon ‘Scoop B’ Robinson, M.A. (@ScoopB) August 27, 2020
But he’d been busy even before the NBA’s resume. In March, the Brooklyn Nets point guard pledged that he’d donate $323,000 to Feeding America and that he’d help distribute 250,000 meals in the New York City area. In April, Irving donated 200,000 vegan Beyond Burgers to food banks in New York City to aid its hunger-relief efforts during the coronavirus pandemic. In May, Irving, in conjunction with Nike, donated 17 pallets of food and 50,000 N95 masks to the Standing Rock Sioux tribe that will be distributed across a wide expanse of North and South Dakota.
A six-time NBA All-Star, Irving was the first pick in the 2011 NBA Draft. Guided by head coach, Ty Lue and playing alongside LeBron James, Kevin Love and JR Smith, Irving helped guide the Cleveland Cavaliers to an NBA Championship in 2016.
Irving’s been pegged a disruptor since questioning whether the Earth was round while on a podcast back in 2017. Irving has since apologized.
“To all the science teachers, everybody coming up to me like, `You know I’ve got to reteach my whole curriculum,” he said at the Forbes Under 30 summit in Boston back in 2018.
“I’m sorry. I apologize. I apologize.”
Last season, Irving issued his thoughts on Thanksgiving after a reporter wished him a happy one. According to reports he said “F*** Thanksgiving” and “I don’t celebrate that sh**.”
Irving’s late mother, Elizabeth Ann Larson, was a member of the tribe and lived on the reservation until her adoption at a young age. Irving and his sister, model Asia Irving, traveled to the reservation in August 2018 , when they were welcomed into the tribe and given Lakota names.
Irving later issued an apology via Twitter stating: “I spoke w/ frustration after last nights game and spoke words that shouldn’t be in a professional setting no matter what,” he said.
“Meant no disrespect to the Holiday and those who celebrate it respectfully. I’m grateful for the time We all can share with our families. We are always ONE.”
While some have questioned his motives, Kyrie Irving appears to be on the right side of history.
Milwaukee Bucks met with Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul & Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes today. I’m told they discussed pros & cons of boycotting & shooting of Jacob Blake. Meeting stressed importance of voting & why bringing concerns to local legislature is important. pic.twitter.com/EkprhYfSK5
— 👑📍Brandon ‘Scoop B’ Robinson, M.A. (@ScoopB) August 27, 2020
On Sunday, Jacob Blake, an unarmed Black man, in Kenosha, Wisconsin, was shot multiple times in the back by police as he entered his SUV in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
As a result, the Milwaukee Bucks refused to play in Game 5 of their NBA Playoffs game against the Orlando Magic on Tuesday afternoon.
The NBA cancelled games for the rest of today yesterday and today.
Some on social media have expressed that Kyrie Irving was right in his actions all along.
Kyrie Irving is the most misunderstood player in the NBA. pic.twitter.com/vMj0wNjkYs
— 𝓜𝓪𝓽𝓽 🏀✈️ (bubble rockets fan) (@mldiffley) August 26, 2020
Love or hate him, Kyrie was speaking for a lot of players. He was doing his job as the Vice President of the NBPA . pic.twitter.com/06mdF7yaDg
— NBA Central (@TheNBACentral) August 26, 2020
Kyrie Irving is another great example of: when they slander you, let time tell your side of the story.
— Annie Apple (@SurvivinAmerica) August 26, 2020
Kyrie Irving was scrutinized for suggesting that players sit out. Today, those same people are praising players for doing just that. Apologies are in order. The Vice President of the NBPA tried to unite, not disrupt. 🗣✊🏾 pic.twitter.com/k7NOWKfASZ
— Da Kid Gowie (@DaKidGowie) August 26, 2020
In solidarity with NBA players, TNT analyst and retired NBA Champion, Kenny Smith walked off Turner’s “Inside The NBA” set rather than broadcasting. “This is tough,” he said.
“I mean right now my head is ready to explode,” Smith said. “Like just in the thoughts of what’s going on. I don’t even know if I am even appropriate enough to say it, what the players are feeling and how they are feeling. I haven’t talked to any of the players. Coming in and even driving here, getting into the studio, hearing calls and people talking …
“And for me, I think the biggest thing now as a Black man, as a former player, I think it’s best for me to support the players and just not be here tonight.”
Smith’s TNT colleague, Chris Webber was even more forward last night when he stated that he actually watches videos of Black people dying because of Emmett Till.
Till was lynched in 1955 for allegedly whistling at a white woman, which later proved to be untrue. “The only reason I watch the videos of the death of Black men … is because Emmett Till’s mother decided to put him on the cover and decided to put his picture out there when he was so brutally killed years ago,” said Webber.
“I always think about her strength. Because if she didn’t put that picture out to show what lynching, what the KKK, what others were doing — that right there opened America’s eyes in a lot of ways. It got the attention. That gruesome, ugly picture of a young boy not even old enough to vote being killed for a lie.”