Kyrie Irving: A Man Wrong Within His Rights

Unless you are completely unplugged from the world, you should have heard and/or have an opinion on the drama…or scandal surrounding Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving.

Since the last week of October, Irving has been under fire for tweeting a link to a book and movie that many view as antisemitic. The problem with that? It fueled a media storm so drastic that one could compare it to an E-F5 tornado or a Category 5 hurricane. 

Everyone from reporters to Rolling Stone to “Twitter Experts” has all but declared Kyrie excommunicado. In fact, on Thursday, November 3rd, the Nets announced the indefinite suspension of Irving without pay. This is a showing of how powerful the media is.

For so many who cry for free speech, a normally peaceful man is currently being baited into admitting something that he never once said, tweeted, posted, or promoted. And a lot of it is being pushed heavily by the media. For example, if you were looking for any reason to hate Kyrie Irving, you could either click on Rolling Stone’s most recent article on him or one of Tommy Beer’s many Twitter rants on the subject. With all the hatred surrounding the subject, and Irving, there’s something a lot of people are neglecting.

A great majority of the people who are upset have never watched or read “Hebrews to Negroes: Wake Up Black America.” I have. And I have several thoughts:

  • The film while some themes in it are antisemitic, the film itself isn’t.
  • There are historical facts in the film that can be proven with proper research, which is what Irving was getting at when he spoke about it. 
  • Nobody acknowledged the fact that Kyrie said that there were things that he didn’t agree with and that he was not promoting anything. Admitting to being an Ominist, the last thing he was trying to be was racist towards any group of people. However…

Only one thing was focused on:

Who is offended today by someone exercising their right to their own opinion or…their right to freedom of speech?

Freedom of Speech, the principle that supports the freedom of an individual or a community to articulate their opinions and ideas without fear of retaliation, censorship, or legal sanction, is the one thing we scream in this country…until it offends the wrong group of people and then all hell breaks loose. NFL wide receiver Cole Beasley has sounded off on this topic several times. Mainly in saying this, he “won’t miss this part of professional sports.” 

I want to be as clear as I possibly can with what I am about to say…I don’t agree with everything in the documentary/book, nor do I believe that people should always say or do certain things. However, if a constitutional right IS Freedom of Speech, then let people speak. Yes, there should and always will be consequences for actions, but we cannot pick and choose when we will and won’t take a stance on statements that are not in universal agreement.

Now, here’s a closing question: Did you, as a reader, notice that I linked multiple sources in for my article within my article? That was intentional. Does it mean I am promoting anything? Absolutely not. And if anyone had listened to the man, Kyrie Irving, many would have realized that he acknowledged that he was not in agreement with everything and what promoting nothing. However, as a friend pointed out to me, we live in a society where perception is reality. The unfortunate part about that is we cannot or maybe will not do our own individual research on things when an opinion can be made for us in front of us. Call me a Kyrie Apologist if you must. I just want things to be even across the board when it comes to subjects like this.

Kyrie Irving is a self-proclaimed free thinker. And on Thursday, November 3rd, that title was essentially stripped from him when he was forced to give an apology so that he can begin his reinstatement back into basketball. Nike has suspended their relationship with him, the ADL rejected his $500,000 donation, and there is now a stain on his career so large that it negates every good thing he’s done with his platform since entering the NBA.

In case you forgot:

  • The K.A.I. Family Foundation, whose mission statement is “The K.A.I. Family Foundation was founded to build self-sustaining communities and ensure families who are often overlooked feel heard, inspired, and powerful!” 
  • $1.5 million dollars donated, through his KAI Empowerment Initiative, to WNBA players who would have lost pay due to sitting out of the league’s restart due to the Covid-19 Pandemic.
  • $323,000 was donated toward feeding New York City families at the height of the Coronavirus Pandemic.
  • Paid off tuition for nine HBCU students at Lincoln University.
  • Purchased a house for the family of George Floyd, according to family friend Stephen Jackson.
  • Partnered with City Harvest to provide 250,000 meals to New Yorkers.
  • Partnered with Nike to provide 17 pallets of food and masks to the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.
  • And more

All but one of those happened between the 2020-2021 NBA season.

The bad part of media, even my being part of it, is that the things we write shift and create narratives that are often damning to the ones we write about. This could be seen in the tweets and articles I liked previously. The one thing we as media personalities forgot during this situation? Kyrie Irving is a human being just like the rest of us.

About Author

A Los Angeles native, AJ grew up watching sports from the age of two and his love for basketball and football never died. He started playing sports at age seven and went on through collegiate and minor league levels (local and overseas) as well. After nearly twenty years of athletics, AJ decided to hang it up and retired from minor league football in June of 2018. Since then, he has continued his love of sports by writing for the Suave Report as a sports and culture contributor as well as coaching and refereeing sports in the OKC metro area. He currently lives with his wife, Beth and daughter, Gianna in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, working as a coach and gym owner.

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