One subject that has become a major topic of discussion in the professional sports world is mental health as it pertains to professional athletes. One player who has been outspoken when it comes to the importance of mental health has been Brooklyn Nets’ starting point guard Kyrie Irving.
Despite Irving’s outspokenness on the importance of mental health, his decision to take some personal time off at the beginning of the season came as a bit of a shock to many. Irving missed a total of seven games during that time and received backlash from many people in the hoops community. Some even went as far as to say Irving should just retire if he didn’t want to play. Two-time NBA champion Ray Allen feels that the criticism of Irving was unfair, especially given the leeway that past players have received.
Ray Allen Thinks Kyrie Has Been Unfairly Criticized
“It’s interesting because when ‘The Last Dance’ was on a few months back, players commented on Dennis Rodman, ‘Oh, we could take days off like that? You could go to Vegas with no repercussions?’ But it’s like no, that was just Dennis Rodman,” Allen told Macklin Stern of CBS Sports. “He had a special bond with his team and with Phil Jackson because he came to work and was a seasoned veteran. People gave him that right, and that doesn’t work for everybody. A lot of teams aren’t mature enough to handle that.”
While Allen is in disagreement with the media’s treatment of the former Boston Celtic, the two-time champ also concedes that Irving has a reputation that precedes him. As a result, his silence has left room for the media to create their own stories about him.
Ray Allen Sounds off on Kyrie’s Leadership
“In order to be a leader, you have to do the unpopular things, but the right things, and you can’t pick and choose when to do them,” Allen continued ”Once [Kyrie] does those things more consistently, that’s when people will respect his decisions. He’s one of the best players in the league, and arguably one of the all-time best one-on-one players. Certainly the best handles. All that stuff is there, but to be a leader and for young players to look up to him, he has to be consistent in his habits.”
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Allen also spoke on Kyrie’s reported rocky relationship with his Boston teammates. Allen had his own relationship issues with his former Celtic teammates get blown out of proportion by the media after leaving the team in free agency to sign with their bitter rivals LeBron James and the Miami Heat. Allen’s advice to Kyrie? Transparency is the best policy.
“He’s had issues before in his locker rooms. So you have to follow what his history has been,” Allen said. ”Regardless of what it is that [Kyrie] was dealing with, he left you guys to speculate … If you don’t speak to the media, they’re gonna write their own stories. So give them the time. Be professional. This is part of your job. Players today think the media is out to get them.”