The Mis-Education Of Kyrie Irving

The Brooklyn Nets star point guard continues to share wild conspiracy theories and misinformation about the COVID-19 vaccine.
BROOKLYN, NY - APRIL 25: Kyrie Irving #11 of the Brooklyn Nets looks on during Round 1 Game 4 of the 2022 NBA Playoffs on April 25, 2022 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.
BROOKLYN, NY - APRIL 25: Kyrie Irving #11 of the Brooklyn Nets looks on during Round 1 Game 4 of the 2022 NBA Playoffs on April 25, 2022 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.
Nathaniel S. Butler via Getty Images

Kyrie Irving is not a God.

He is a wizard on the basketball court, at least.

For the Brooklyn Nets (when he’s playing) Irving is one of the toughest players to guard. He’s lightning quick, can stop and start on a dime, and has a layup package that is unparalleled. He’s literally what the kids these days call, “a walking bucket.”

But something happened to the New Jersey native. It’s something that can happen to anyone when they go too far down the rabbit hole and can’t find their way back out.

The NBA Champion has apparently become the Black Alex Jones.

Or the basketball playing Dr. Umar Johnson.

Irving is a conspiracy theorist who has read a few books that aren’t even that deep into the conspiracy theory playbook. Then he started spouting off nonsensical and uninformed “hotepian” nonsense (think “Harry Potter” wizardry spiked with Black conspiracies and less quidditch).

Oh, and he won’t get the vaccine for COVID-19. Keep in mind that Irving has never explained why he doesn’t want to get the vaccine, he’s just stood firmly in the paint that he won’t be getting it. What’s problematic about this stance is that if you cobble together the videos he’s been sharing, or his tweets, one could believe that Irving apparently thinks the pandemic is a big plot by the government to do whatever governments do when they plot to do nefarious things. The issue is that while Irving has the right to decide whatever he wants with his body, he ignores the fact that he’s a public figure. He has influence, which he has used to sell sneakers and plays video games online with fans. He’s got the ear of everyone — from the reporters shoving microphones in his face to record his every word to kids idolizing his every move on and off the court.

But Kyrie Irving is not a God.

He is a dynamic personality, though. He’s also a walking hot mic. He’s probably one of the only sports figures with a take on the existence of dinosaurs. (To be fair, JJ Redick mentioned that he didn’t believe that dinosaurs ever roamed the Earth first on his podcast, but that didn’t stop Irving from agreeing with him.) And so it makes sense from a media perspective to ask Irving questions about hot-button topics, but he’s got to understand his position. We are coming from the “Charles Barkley era” of athletes, in which the flagrant power forward at one point exclaimed, “he was not a role model.” Barkley’s declaration totally became a marketing ploy by Nike, thus making him more of a superstar and even more of a role model. However, now, we are in a socially conscious awakening era in which sports stars are no longer remaining silent on issues that affect their communities. LeBron James, arguably the face of the league, has made it a point to be vocal about everything from the police killings of unarmed Black and brown people to the NBA’s tone-deaf decision to suspend Phoenix Suns and Mercury owner Robert Sarver for a measly year after reports that he’s repeatedly used the N-word and has a history of sexual inappropriateness among his staff. Dwyane Wade has been an ardent supporter of LGBTQ issues and his daughter’s first defender. Those are athletes who understand the power of their platforms. Then there is Irving, standing off to the side of the cookout crying out that Tupac is not dead and for years was managing a Cluck-U in College Park, Maryland.

Black people are more likely to die from COVID-19 and for Irving to use his megaphone to go against the one known helpful deterrent in the spread of this disease is not only irresponsible, but it’s also dangerous. Irving’s intelligence could be put to better use if he spent more time doing the actual work and not working to unearth some hidden secret. His voice is powerful.

He’s an earworm who believes in earworms.

I ignored him when he claimed that the world was flat, a statement for which he later backtracked and apologized. I ignored him when he saged the court before a game because whom amongst has not broken out a bundle of sage to smoke out bad energy? But his initial thoughts on the COVID-19 vaccine were dangerously close to the anti-vaxxing talking points from the Trump campaign.

Lest we not forget, the famed point guard missed home games because he refused to get vaccinated during the height of the COVID-19 spread. His stance didn’t change until the mandate was lifted in New York. And it seemed for a while that Irving’s focus was less on creating a rip in the time/space continuum or searching for the elusive flux capacitor and more focused on basketball. But just last week, he shared a Jones video talking about secret societies and the New World Order.

And I cringed for him, and us.

Because this means that Irving is back in his bag… his magical bag of spells and potions and secret schools and Illuminati sneakers and everything on the other side of normal. If you don’t know of Jones then you are blessed, but if you need to know about him just know that this spineless mass of discarded aluminum foil balls was just in court because he claimed that the Sandy Hook school shooting didn’t happen. He publicly made false claims that the 2012 massacre didn’t leave 20 children and six adults dead and that the parents who’ve been trying to put together some kind of normalcy in its aftermath were all faking it. And some people believed Jones.

This is who Irving has found to be a credible source worth sharing. The clip he shared was reportedly from a 2002 “InfoWars” show of which Jones is the host, and he discussed the skullduggery plan of the “New World Order,” which is an “all-encompassing cabal of international leaders” who are “secretly releasing plagues upon the world from which they can profit.”

“Yes, there have been corrupt empires. Yes, they manipulate, Yes, there are secret societies. Yes, there have been oligarchies throughout history,” Jones says in the video. “And yes, today in 2002 there is a tyrannical organization calling itself, ‘The New World Order.’”

Irving then took to Twitch and shared a monologue on the mysterious “they” who want people to care about different societal issues. He doesn’t quite say who “they” are or the “stuff” that we should care about.

“I’m here to show you guys you do not have to fear anything out here,” Irving said while playing NBA 2K23. “They say we should care about... I don’t want to say ‘they.’”

He went on to add: “Society tells us we should be, you know, ‘You’re trending on Twitter, Kyrie. You’re gonna get canceled... how insensitive!’ Nah, bro. It has nothing to do with being insensitive. I honestly care about society. I just don’t want to lie.”

And that’s the rub. I believe that Irving believes his heart is in the right place. Much like the goonies before him, Irving appears destined to unearth Zelda’s secrets while also playing professional basketball. Whereas I truly believe that Kanye West just spouts off whatever he’s thinking, Irving believes the nonsense he’s exclaiming. Unlike West, who recently claimed he doesn’t read books despite being the son of a college English professor, Irving sounds as if he does pick up a book or three. He does a really good job of sounding convincing when he claims that meditation has connected him more to geniuses like Nikola Tesla.

While I don’t believe that Irving and Tesla share a spiritual womb, I do believe that whatever Irving finds during his quiet time helps him transcend this physical realm to... wait, what the hell am I talking about?

The dangers of Irving’s beliefs.

New York City Mayor Eric Adams’ recently changed the private employer vaccine mandate, but still requires city workers to be vaccinated to work. This, of course, upset Irving who has been an anti-vaxxer since the beginning of the pandemic.

He took to Twitter to voice his concerns on Tuesday.

“If I can work and be unvaccinated, then all of my brothers and sisters who are also unvaccinated should be able to do the same, without being discriminated against, vilified, or fired,” he wrote.

“This enforced vaccine/pandemic is one the biggest violations of HUMAN RIGHTS in history.”

Ummm… I don’t think requiring workers to be vaccinated to prevent the spread of infectious disease is up there with slavery or the Holocaust but I also can’t split a double team or throw an effective and on-time alley-oop. So, what do I know?

Sometimes a peanut butter and jelly sandwich sitting on a table is just that. There is no deeper meaning, no secret tomb, no Indiana Jones-level of investigation that needs to take place. It just is what it is and it doesn’t matter how much you try and sage it away, it exists and lives on whether you believe it or not.

Because Kyrie Irving is not a God.

And he hasn’t proclaimed to be.

But he is a Black man with an extraordinary gift and a responsibility greater than himself. And, if he chooses to accept this path, then, just like every superhero before him, he can begin to do real tangible work.

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