Kyrie Irving Celebrated Martin Luther King Day by Making the Heroically Departed Roll Over in His Grave
I am going to make the mistake of giving Kyrie Irving a little benefit of the doubt in assuming that the NBA's oft-cantankerous enigma to the tragically slain Civil Rights leader comparison isn’t one that he sat down, with a pen and pad, and put a lot of thought into. In my opinion, this was just a case of him dropping whatever topical name happened to be on the tip of his tongue in trying, and largely failing, to voice his opinion in making a point about him constantly being maligned through the media's misunderstanding and misrepresentation.
Unfortunately, the ever-so-slight difference between those two things is far-too-nuanced a distinction to expect people to make on the one day a year devoted to the memory of a man who died for a cause exponentially greater than any easily-confuted conspiracy theory.
Look, I don’t want to go all “shut up and dribble” here. That’s partially because I hate the racial and “political” overtones of doing so, but it’s mostly because the last thing Kyrie Irving needs is encouragement to spend even more time singlehandedly bouncing the air out of a basketball. Still, the fact remains that someone who only manages to make the media’s job that much easier almost every time he attempts to criticize it could probably benefit from knowing when to stop talking.
Albeit for a brief and belated second, Kyrie Irving was right. At the end of the day, all that matters is how his team performs and what his teammates think of him. However, if the general population is off-put by him seamlessly making MLK’s legendary life as a martyr for the inherently human rights of minorities about himself then it stands to reason that an NBA locker room would also feel some type of way about the timing of such shameless self-importance. Simply put, I have a hard time believing that the rest of the Nets' roster isn’t looking at their best (active) player through a collective side-eye after he returned from spending two months on the sideline only to contribute more to the creation of dumbfounding and divisive distractions than the work that goes into winning...
...never mind doing so on a culturally significant holiday ahead of an important divisional game that he didn’t even fucking participate in.
Again, I don’t think Kyrie Irving thought he was making an apples-to-apples analogy between himself and one of the most accomplished activists to ever walk this decisively round planet. I do, however, think that he thought he was smart enough to speak on some off-the-padded-wall similarity without sounding like more of an insane asshole than an eccentric intellectual. That’s an egregiously obnoxious trend with him, as what he considers an unfair portrayal is what the vast majority of the basketball world has seen enough of to consider it an insufferable personality.
The absolute best case scenario here is that he was intentionally trolling for the entertainment purposes he only seems to speak of with snark, but even that would require a disingenuous and disrespectful repurposing of MLK’s purpose on a day dedicated to his awe-inspiring existence. Plus, while I think we all wish that Kyrie Irving had the self-awareness for that soundbite to be heard as sarcastic, he’s proven - ad nauseam - to be a human hot-air balloon as an aimless gasbag that needs to be tied down, psych-ward-style, to remain grounded. If we're speaking metaphorically, he makes an Ambien addict with narcolepsy seem "woke" to reality by a comparison that is exponentially more appropriate than that of the NBA's most incessant malcontent to a timeless trailblazer who sacrificed his life to the pursuit of equality.