Whether the NBA likes it or not, Kyrie Irving is undergoing a metamorphosis.
The bubbly, harmonious neophyte of yesteryear has been replaced by a battle-tested superstar who’s tasted the spoils of championship victory, as well the criticism of his peers.
Now on his third team in only nine seasons, he’s survived quarrels with LeBron James, an unceremonious exit in Boston, and an endless onslaught of injuries that have seemingly all played a contributing factor into the latest incarnation of Kyrie Irving.
Gone are the days of telling people what they want to hear, the six-time NBA All-Star would much rather wax poetic about the Earth being flat or sow seeds of dissension as the NBA prepared to resume play in June.
“I don’t support [resuming the NBA season in] Orlando,” Irving reportedly said during a conference call in June. “I’m not with the systematic racism and the bullshit. […] Something smells a little fishy. Whether we want to admit it or not, we are targeted as black men every day we wake up.”
No longer a protagonist willing to save the princess or sacrifice himself for the greater good, Kyrie is much more at home as a mercenary. He’s gonna do whatever the hell he wants, whenever the hell he wants to do it, and the NBA will just have to deal—or so he thinks.
Unfortunately for him, while NBA superstardom has provided a life the rest of us can only dream about, it also comes with a stringent set of contractual obligations. And if Kyrie wants to collect on the $33 million he’s due this season, one of those requirements calls for him to play nice with the media. However, thus far, the 2016 NBA champion has refused to do so—he’s declined media members access entirely—and has every intention of dying on this hill for the foreseeable future.
In response, the NBA—which has a product to promote—is understandably pissed off, and has fined Kyrie and the Nets $25,000 each for his insubordination. But instead of seeing the error in his ways and opting to comply, the Duke product has doubled down on his stance as only he can.
On Friday, he took to his Instagram Stories and opened with a quote from Malcolm X (“I’ve had enough of someone else’s propaganda”) before making it abundantly clear that the media can kiss his entire Black ass.
“I pray we utilize the ‘fine money’ for marginalized communities in need, especially seeing where our world is presently,” he wrote. “I am here for Peace, Love, and Greatness. So stop distracting me and my team, and appreciate the Art. We move different over here.
“I do not talk to Pawns. My attention is worth more.”
Did this nigga just call me—a media member—a damn pawn?!
As news of Kyrie’s comments began to circulate, former teammate Kevin Love made it clear to reporters that he wasn’t feeling it: “Calling anybody a pawn is a sure sign of disrespect.”
And Love is right. It’s absolutely disrespectful, which was Kyrie’s intent. But was Kyrie respectful when he sent a shot at LeBron about not being clutch? Or how he handed his exit in Boston? Or pretty much anything with his involvement?
This is who is he is now.
It’s also a war he has absolutely no chance in hell at winning. Because at the end of the day, he’s still an employee. And as long as the NBA signs his checks, he’s gonna have to either learn to co-exist with the media, auction off his kidneys to pay the bills, or make a move to OnlyFans.
The choice is yours, Kyrie.