Kyrie Irving is not Funny, Prescient, or Harmless | Commentary
I often use a three-word idiom to explain human behavior; accident, coincidence, and trend. The current anti-Semitic controversy surrounding the demonstrations of ignorance by NBA star Kyrie Irving makes my point. His accidents of language have stopped being funny, are not a coincidence, and have become a trend. In 2017 Kyrie Irving appeared on the podcast Road Trippin’ hosted by Allie Clifton, where Mr. Irving offered his scientific views on the solar system, “The Earth is flat… ‘I’m telling you, it’s right in front of our faces,” Irving said when asked to expand on his answer. “They lie to us.”’ Irving claimed his “research” bore him out. His colleagues and the general public considered it funny and harmless meandering. Former NBA star Tracy McGrady speculated he was trolling because he lost a bet.
Then came Covid-19
My oldest son is a musician, and his sports fandom is peripheral to his love of music. He beat me to the nearest vaccination center when the vaccine to mitigate the effects of coronavirus was introduced. My youngest son (a huge sports fan) was a bit more resistant until it hit home, literally. His brother and I tried hard to convince him the vaccine was safe, but he was leery. One of the people he would cite in our discussions was Kyrie Irving, not for his medical advice but for his freedom to speak against vaccination. Irving, along with Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, is among a handful of sports figures and celebrities pointing to their personal research as a reason to reject the vaccine. In every case, their studies were based on pseudoscience, quackery, and wild stories of swollen genitals, à la Nicki Minaj.
I laughed, too, when Kyrie entertained us with his flat Earth theory. He ceased to be funny, prescient, or harmless when his whimsy involved life and death. Now the basketballer has turned his ire to the Jewish community. I pointed a wagging finger at the former President who originally called the coronavirus a hoax. In turn, I have to reserve a finger for Mr. Irving. A million people, or more, died of Covid-19 in America, I am not blaming Donald Trump or Kyrie Irving, but celebrity has consequences.
Charles Barkley warned us
In 1993 NBA Hall of Famer Charles Barkley warned us sports stars should not be heroes beyond the ice, court, or field. He made what some label an infamous shoe commercial warning parents and children he is not a role model, nor is he paid to be one. It seemed apparent when he said, “parents should be role models,” yet he was met with an outcry. So when Kyrie Irving reposted a widely panned documentary with anti-Semitic content, many of his followers bowed to his celebrity and said, hmmm. The smart hmmm-ers thought, what is wrong with his thinking, and the other hmmm-ers said, maybe he is on to something, which is the danger. Ideas stop being harmless when they put people in the line of fire. During Mr. Irving’s extensive research, did Charlottesville cross his mind or the massacre at Tree of Life Synagogue? Kyrie, as a black American, you are a survivor of systemic racism in America. Do not substitute your athletic talent for wisdom. Racism and anti-Semitism are irrational, and no amount of research makes them palpable.
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