At early media day for the Dallas Mavericks (Sept. 29), Kyrie Irving shared that he wished his team could have had a shot at drafting him in 2011. This sent a stray jab to the Cleveland Cavaliers and their supporters, likely unintentionally, but Irving can’t help himself.
Reporters in the room missed the perfect chance to follow up with, “What does this mean about your memories in Cleveland?” After all, he said post Game 7 of the 2016 Finals, moments after getting doused by his teammates with champagne, that he was grateful to make history with them.
At the parade, innumerable fans stood from the then Quicken Loan Arena to Lakeside Avenue, celebrating among the team’s road victory, HIM, for hitting the equalizer over the back-to-back MVP, Stephen Curry, who was also the NBA’s first and only unanimous choice, on the right wing after the forced switch. The echoing despair of Golden State Warriors fans at Oracle Arena at that moment will forever be the sweetest music to the ears of the Wine and Gold backers as Cleveland completed their amazing 3-1 comeback.
Cleveland’s faithful watched the No.1 pick, who played in 11 games at Duke, blossom from a relentless scorer with an unmatched handle into a player who had a high impact on winning. It seems like a lifetime ago, but his 57-piece in San Antonio on March 12, 2015, to this day, is one of the top performances I’ve seen pre-playoffs. Then, the Spurs were defending champions, and Irving dropped six points in the last 33 seconds to force overtime.
With eight minutes left in the fourth, Irving dribbled between the blitz up top, nearly falling, then euro-stepped around Danny Green for a layup. Hearing TNT’s Kevin Harlan exclaiming,“He gives you a move with every part of his body,” sent chills down my spine. The Cavaliers won that night by three points, and Irving supplied 11 in overtime.
Christmas Day 2016 was another epic match sealed by late-game heroics. Guess whose? Out of the timeout, Irving was guarded in full-court press by Golden State’s Klay Thompson. At the right wing, he hit the gas, dribbling towards the rim, but his cover stayed in front. Irving then spun to his left, firing away. Bullseye and the Cavs went up by one point.
When LeBron James and Ankletaker (Irving) were together, they were the best duo in the league. Each knew how to dissect double teams and created separation without help. Irving may wish the Mavs took him first, right after winning the 2011 championship, but it will forever be a shame that he only played three seasons with James in Cleveland.
Those two left unfinished business on the court, but everyone should appreciate what they did together. It should never be forgotten as superbly gifted as James was, he needed Irving badly. Apart from the wicked finesse, #2 (Irving) possessed the rare, immeasurable skill of raising his game in late moments.
What he said likely stung those in the Cavs’ organization and those who cared enough to watch him. With that said, of all the garbage he’s spewed over the years, this isn’t even close to the most offensive things he said. It’s hard to overshadow his disrespect for the people expelled from England in 1290, those banned from France by Philip IV in 1306, or those murdered by fascists.
Irving’s promotion of anti-semitic propaganda last season, which pushed misinformation that the Jewish community is stealing Black people’s “true” identity and the lie that the Holocaust didn’t happen, is the worst, indefensible act of his career. He felt pressured into apologizing but later deleted it despite claiming he was still sorry.
When he was getting grilled by the press for his dangerous lack of understanding last year, he said he wouldn’t “stand for anything close to hate speech or antisemitism or anything that is going against the human race.”
I don’t believe Irving is a hateful person. Yet, he doesn’t do his homework and easily buys into conspiracy theories that compromise his dignity by insulting the intelligence and feelings of others or potentially putting them in danger through the spread of malignant lies.
Remember the flat earth nonsense that he wouldn’t back off of for some time? Or the anti-vaccine position he followed and posts he liked on Instagram disputing its legitimacy while people across the country were dying because they wouldn’t take the shot? That was two middle fingers aimed at the scientific community.
One can’t forget either his reposting of Alex Jones’ filth on Instagram – Jones is the cretin who accused the family members of the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting of being “crisis actors.” A judge ordered that monster to pay nearly $1 billion to the families for his defamation.
So, in the grand scheme of things, what Irving said at Media Day is tame for his standards. Unfortunately, Cavaliers fans were caught in the crossfire.