Kyrie Irving is one of the most polarizing athletes in the game today. His opinions on the COVID-19 vaccine mandates and other things have sparked controversy, to say the least.
As you would imagine, a lot of people were looking at Irving sideways, including one Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. On his latest Substack post, Abdul-Jabbar went in on Irving for his public behavior and blamed him for ruining the reputation of professional athletes.
In his post, Abdul-Jabbar wrote:
Kyrie Irving would be dismissed as a comical buffoon if it weren’t for his influence over young people who look up to athletes. When I look at some of the athletes who have used their status to actually improve society—Colin Kaepernick, LeBron James, Muhammad Ali, Bill Russel, Billie Jean King, Arthur Ashe, and more—it becomes clear how much Irving has tarnished the reputations of all athletes who strive to be seen as more than dumb jocks.
Irving does not seem to have the capacity to change, but we have the capacity to keep fighting against his brand of destructive behavior. One way to do that, beyond shaking our heads and nasty tweets, is to write to his sponsors and tell them to drop Irving—or you will drop them. Nike has likely decided not to renew his contract past this season. But he is still sponsored by Pepsi and 2K Sports. (Don’t feel bad for Irving: his career earnings at the end of the 2022-’23 season will be $230 million. That buys a lot of Yes-people.)
Oof. Harsh words from the NBA legend. Abdul-Jabbar promoted the post on Twitter by including a picture of Irving giving the finger to Boston Celtics fans during the 2022 NBA playoffs. He wrote, “Let’s make sure our kids have the right kind of role models. Kyrie Irving should reconsider his behavior because young people look up to him.”
But, NBA Twitter was quick to jump down the throat of the NBA’s all-time scoring leader and pull receipts from some of the more controversial moments from his own career, claiming that he’s being hypocritical.
While the criticism of Irving is harsh, I also find it to be incredibly fair. Irving’s comments and decisions over the last two years have been questionable and oftentimes warrant someone disputing them. But, if you’re willing to dish it out, you also have to be ready to receive it back and Twitter came back with the heat. I find the photo of Abdul-Jabbar giving the double bird especially hilarious.
With the NBA regular season starting soon, will Kyrie Irving respond to the NBA legend’s harsh criticism? Guess we will have to wait and see.