The saga of Brooklyn Nets Kyrie Irving has been unlike the NBA has ever encountered. He is arguably the most polarizing talent in the NBA. From his all-time elite handle shot-making and acrobatic contorting finishes, Kyrie is second to none when it comes to pure ability. Irving is a hoop purest dream. The closest talent-wise, many have seen this side of the late great Kobe Bryant. But as exciting as he can be is on the floor, he is even more intriguing off.
In the past three years since Irving’s trade request and departure from Cleveland to Boston summer of 2017, Irving has been seemingly the NBA’s punching bag by media members and fans. While many will argue deservingly so, the rhetoric from Irving the past three to four years has left many dumbfounded and confused. Outside of Paul George, Irving has been the topic of discussion when it comes to off the court commentary in 2020.
In part two of my previous article, The Mental State of The Black Man in America, I referenced Kyrie’s dynamic with the media. Off the court, his charity work is outstanding. The Kyrie Irving foundation in 2020 alone had donated over $1.8M. In March, $323K was presented to the Feeding America foundation and $200k matched by Lineage Logistics for families struggling to put food on the table amidst the unemployment due to Covid. Irving also started a $1.5 million fund for WNBA players who chose or could not participate in the bubble during the 2020 continuation.
Although it may seem that Irving’s rhetoric is random at times, it is a method to his comments. His remarks stem from a place of substance as weird as it may sound. And an overlooked aspect in the black community. I refer to black spirituality and the history and lineage of the ancestral Kemetic background of African and Indigenous Black Americans in this country.
Kyrie has been stuck at an apparent crossroads for some time. The frustration has shown with his dealings through the media and teammates. Kyrie struggles to express himself in the environment of a profession that is not conducive to his newfound knowledge and spirituality.
For nearly four centuries, the American born black man and woman have been seemingly separated from their real history. As a demographic, blacks are educated in a society that limits the information to slavery and ceases. In the general American school curriculum, black students learn about the civil rights era, jim crow, and slavery. With the highlighting of many Civil Rights activists such as MLK Malcolm X and Rosa Parks. Along with Abolitionists during slavery from Fredrick Douglass, Harriet Tubman, and Sojourner Truth.
While it is evident that these figures in black history should be recognized, it quickly turns into a detriment when education is capped after slavery. The miseducation has resulted in a subconscious slave mentality among many black minorities. If you ask them about their linage before slavery, the answer will come up empty to the everyday Black American. The lack of historical awareness has contributed to the stagnation of black people as a collective in American society. Because it is relatively impossible to have the foresight of where you plan to be without first knowing who you were. If you tell a young black boy or girl that they were born here as a descendant of slaves, it automatically forms a complex in their minds subconsciously. If we taught those same children that slavery was just a small blip of African American history as a whole. While further explaining that they are apart of the bloodline that was the pinnacle of ancient civilizations for thousands of years, you eliminate the concealed chain.
In recent years Kyrie, among other players, has begun to discover this knowledge and history. Not only the information but the spirituality practiced by their ancestors. The shift in Kyrie’s mentality is night and day, and he is fully committed to the restoration of himself and the liberation of his people. Irving’s burden is he embarked on newfound spiritual and historical enlightenment while being a global superstar. The combination of the two is usually the cause of controversy. While Kyrie has not done himself any favors by bringing his takes to the forefront, he is growing apart from the NBA and black America’s status quo to a degree.
Irving has yet to find the balance of maneuvering through the two platforms. The struggle to be his newfound self does not quite fit with his star studded profession, and often when he speaks, it ends up being a headline or online discussion topic. Irving recognizes his faults and is self-aware, hints his hindrance to speaking at media day. Instead of addressing the media about the upcoming season on December 4th Irving issued a statement, “I am committed to showing up to work every day, ready to have fun, compete, perform and win championships alongside my teammates and colleagues in the Nets organization. My goal this season is to let my work on and off the court speak for itself. Life hit differently this year, and it requires us, it requires me, to move differently. So, this is the beginning of that change.” Irving’s enlightenment has captured his social media presence as well.
Irvings Instagram Avatar is a picture of an ankh. This ancient Kemetic symbol represents “the key of life” or “the cross of life.” The Ankh dates to the early dynastic period reigning between (c. 3150 – 2613 BCE). Across Irving’s Instagram, you can see a glimpse into his shifted mentality. On December 20th, he posted a quote, “9:36 Free your mind, meditate, manifest, Go…. Don’t stop, don’t ever stop. Embrace the unknown and the uncomfortable. Have your Inner peace, pray to the ancestors. In whatever order King and Queens.”
What Irving is displaying is nothing short of the process of growth and maturation within himself. To the media and fans who are not familiar, it comes off as confusing, but those who have done their due diligence of research see that this is something special. We have a front-row seat of an NBA Superstar becoming conscious. This a phenomenon that has never happened in this league.
Irving is not the only player that is experiencing this shift mentally. In 2020 alone, despite the various turbulence, there have been occurrences of NBA players who have embarked on their history.
In the bubble, we got a glimpse of the Houston Rockets and now Portland Trailblazer guard Robert Covington’s Eye of Horus Tattoo below his neck. The Eye of Horus signifies Horus’s Egyptian mythological story losing his eye in the battle with his brother Set. Set representing the ego and humanity, Horus is representing spirituality, consciousness, and righteousness. The eye is utilized to signify restoration, healing, sacrifice, protection, and completion. Horus symbolizes a man on his journey towards a high self and integrity. Set and Horus’s story was the inspiration for Kane and Able’s story, as many know today in the Bible.
Another instance in the bubble that went unrecognized by many was a snapshot of Laker guard JR Smith reading The Browder File. The Browder File is a book by Egyptian memory recovery specialist Anthony Browder. The Book is a complication of various African history articles spanning from the 21st century to the Egyptian dynasty and beyond.
Browder founded and directed IKG Cultural resource as well as the ASA Restoration Project. He Has devoted over 30 years to researching ancient Egyptian history, science, and lifestyle. Browder has voyaged to Egypt 55 times since 1980 and is the first African American to fund and coordinate an archeological dig in Egypt. Since 2009 Browder’s team has conducted 23 archeological missions.
On Friday night, December 18th, Irving’s return to Boston in a preseason game, Irving circled the court burning sage upon pre game shoot around. Sage burning is a spiritual way of cleaning the atmosphere of unwanted entities. The action, of course, went viral and was quite amusing. The week before, Irving and fellow teammate Kevin Durant did a little trolling by doing an Instagram live session and playing on gameplans. It is apparent that Kyrie knows what is said about him, and now and then he will choose a creative way to join in on the fun at his expense.
Irving is often misunderstood by many and not the typical embodiment of an NBA superstar off the court. Irving is not flashy; you won’t catch him in the strip club throwing ones, wearing extravagant outfits with jewelry, or flashing his whips and expensive assets on IG. What he brings to the table is a different perspective. Something that this league and fans should be proud of and Black America specifically. A man who has embraced his individuality and is not shying away from the path he has set for himself to get back to his roots. It is one thing to find yourself within your own life’s confines on the day to day. It is another to be in the public eye and bear the burden of self-realization. For that alone, he should be commended.
Below is a shortlist of Black Scholars that have devoted their lives to the recovery of African history and spirituality.
Dr. Anthony Browder, Dr. Francis Cress Welsing, Dr. Gus Casely-Hayford.