UTAH JAZZ

Understanding Kyrie Irving And His Resistance To NBA Return

Jun 19, 2020, 1:39 PM | Updated: 1:45 pm
Kyrie Irving (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)...
Kyrie Irving (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
(Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving has been outspoken in his objection to the NBA’s return. Irving helped lead a call for NBA players to discuss their concerns with the league’s plan. Some players feel the league’s return will overshadow the protests regarding racial injustice taking place across the country. Others, including Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell, are concerned about personal safety.

KSL Sports Ben Anderson spoke to Kristian Winfield who covers the Nets for the New York Day News. Winfield wrote an article regarding Iriving’s activism in the city of Brooklyn. In the latest episode of the Jazz Notes podcast, Anderson and Winfield discuss Irving’s personality, and what the general public gets wrong about the All-Star guard.

Understanding Irving

“I think it’s always getting swept under the rug but this guy’s the VP of the of the Players Union for a reason,” Winfield said. “We’ve got the NBA trying to restart in the middle of a global pandemic. In the middle of what seems to be one of the biggest shows of unity this country has had in the wake of George Floyd’s death. And everything coming together. I think [Irving] is saying, ‘Let’s find a way to seize this moment and really make the best out of it.'”

The NBA plans to return to action on July 30 in Orlando. In total, 22 teams will travel to the Disney World Resorts to finish the season, including the Jazz and the Nets.

Irving has a complicated reputation across the NBA. The guard won a championship with the Cleveland Cavaliers, then asked to be traded away from the contender. Then, after saying he hoped to retire with the Boston Celtics, team chemistry submarined, and Irving left for the Brooklyn Nets.

Mixed in with the frequent moves, Irving claimed to believe that the Earth was flat. A statement he later apologized for.  However, Winfield paints a fuller picture of Irving as a man.

“I was expecting [Irving] to have his nose up maybe a little arrogant,” After the guard signed with Brooklyn. “And that just wasn’t the case at all.”

Furthermore, Winfield painted a picture that Irving isn’t the kind of player who speaks first, and thinks later.

“He’s very thoughtful and intentional about what he wants to say,” Winfield said. “And that’s another thing, he’s very cognizant of the fact that words can get twisted.”

Impact of Irving on the NBA

Despite Irving’s objections, the league maintains its plan to finish the season by October 13. Teams will travel to Orlando beginning July 7, before resuming the season at month’s end.

Though Irving’s desire to see the season canceled didn’t come to fruition, it doesn’t mean he didn’t serve a valuable role.

“If all [Irving] accomplishes is just to get the league to slow down a little bit and just say, ‘Hey, we really need to pay attention. We really need to focus on this.’ I think that’s successful,” Anderson argued.

LeBron James, the league’s biggest superstar has been a key contributor in organizing the league’s return. The Los Angeles Lakers forward helped orchestrate a call among league superstars to push to finish the season.

Winfield said Irving’s impact can be seen most clearly simply by looking at James’ outspoken teammates.

“Two of the more prominent voices in this entire situation, obviously you’ve got [irving] but you’ve also got Dwight Howard and Avery Bradley, those are two Lakers,” Winfield said. “So does this platform become available for them to talk and really express their views if [Irving] doesn’t say something on that phone call? I think at the end of the day, that’s what it really really boils down to. He’s giving players and really his peers a platform to voice their concerns.”

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