Despite being a fan of the Brooklyn Nets and arguing their power in the NBA, ESPN First Take Commentator Stephen A. Smith is tearing apart Kyrie Irving for his recent behavior.
The Nets player is currently being investigated by the NBA for viral videos that show him at a family birthday party with no mask on in a room of well over 30 people. NBA strictly prohibits players from being in large gatherings. Other players have been fined for defying these COVID-19 regulations this season.
While he may be violating COVID-19 regulations, it’s hard to discipline someone who isn’t even showing up to games. If he misses today’s game it will be his sixth absence for “personal reasons.”
Stephen A. Smith Suggests Retirement
Smith is being straightforward about it. Kyrie Irving needs to retire if he continues this behavior.
“He’s not worth [the drama] at all. Matter of fact, let me say this straight up and down: I think Kyrie Irving should retire … I think he should announce his retirement today. Clearly, you don’t want to play basketball bad enough. Now you might still want to get the $33.4 million,” Smith said on First Take on Wednesday.
Yesterday, Smith also talked about Irving. He has made himself the talk of the NBA this week without playing a single game.
“Kyrie Irving is a sensational talent. Let’s be very clear about that … He’s one of the NBA players you actually pay to see every night. But we’re not seeing Kyrie Irving every night. In fact, we’re not seeing him most nights. In fact, it seems like the Nets don’t even know where he is. Eighteen months after signing a four-year 144 million dollar deal Kyrie Irving has only played 27 games. The Nets had reservations about giving him that deal and we’re seeing exactly why now,” Smith said on Stephen A’s World on ESPN.
Between injuries, preseason media boycotts, a controversy over burning sage, a long absence for personal reasons, and now being completely off the grid, Irving is putting the Nets through the wringer.
Smith said yesterday that Irving has “violated the trust that Kevin Durant put in him.” Today, he reiterated by saying that Durant loves the game and he’d play anywhere for whatever price tag.
He couldn’t say the same for Irving.
“Kyrie Irving, clearly, is not interested in doing that, and that’s the problem. So guess what? Go ahead and retire. Go ahead and retire until you know that you’re committed to play it,” Smith said.
Kyrie Irving, Basketball and Social Issues
Irving in the past has been a huge advocate for social justice issues. From supporting WNBA players to releasing a documentary about Breonna Taylor to resisting the return to the NBA season while the country mourned George Floyd.
“Kyrie Irving’s heart is in the right place. He wants to do a lot of things for the community, he wants to do things to uplift the community, to address some of the concerns, the things that are ravaged our communities for many, many years. He wants to do all of that. In that regard, his heart is in the right place. He’s philanthropic, he’s very charitable with his time, with his donations and things of that nature. … Here’s the problem that I have. He acts like he can’t chew gum and walk at the same time,” Smith said.
It appears that Smith is suggesting if he can’t do both, pick one. That one might be leaning on the philanthropic efforts at the moment.
All in all, the future of the Nets and Irving are very shakey. If he returns, he will be facing both backlash and major fines if the viral video was recent.
That’s if he comes back because as Smith puts it, “We don’t know where the hell he is.”