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A timeline of Kyrie Irving’s scandals and controversies: anti-semitism, COVID vaccines, flat Earth...

Truthfully, one has to question whether the former Nets star’s unpredictability is surprising, or consistent given his past behavior.

Truthfully, one has to question whether the former Nets star’s unpredictability is surprising, or consistent given his past behavior.
Mark J. RebilasUSA TODAY Sports

Is Kyrie Irving antisemitic? Does he believe the earth is flat? Why did he refuse the covid-19 vaccine and why on earth would he promote conspiracy theories, from Alex Jones of all people? These are a few of the questions we’ll attempt to answer, as we take a look at the seemingly extensive list of controversies, that the Nets point guard has been involved in over time.

Is Kyrie Irving more trouble than he’s worth?

You may or may not know, that Kyrie Irving requested a trade a few days ago and he is in fact now set to join the Dallas Mavericks. What you may not know, is the puzzling past that Irving has when it comes to his opinions.

Before we descend into some of the eyebrow raising stuff, that Irving has engaged in over recent years, let’s start with what we know for certain: Kyrie Irving is one of the most talented players of his generation and perhaps in the history of the NBA. A seven-time NBA All-Star and former champion as well, Irving’s ball handling ability, movement and undisputable skills are quite frankly something to behold. Add to that, a large number of charitable contributions off the court over the years and you’re talking about a player, who has often been considered not just a star, but a fan favorite. Unfortunately, this is where we come to the other side of Kyrie Irving, the side that is the polar opposite of everything we just said.

To be crystal clear, some of the opinions that Kyrie Irving has shared about matters that are not related to basketball, are as bizarre and outlandish as they are downright concerning and, in some cases, outrightly offensive. With that said, we’re going to run you through the gauntlet of Kyrie’s controversies. Far be it from us to tell you what to think, we’d prefer that you take that decision for yourself. Let’s dive in.

The Earth is Flat according to Kyrie Irving

Though he’s been known to be critical of the media on many occasions, often referring to journalists as “pawns” and “puppets” who are involved in a grand scale effort to “control public perception,” Irving’s ideas about the world really came under scrutiny in 2017, when he began to promote the long-debunked idea that the earth is flat. If you didn’t know of this before, then we take this opportunity to tell you ‘Yes, you read that right.’ It was during an appearance on the ‘Road Trippin’ podcast in February of that year, that Irving first claimed that the Earth is flat.

“It’s right in front of our faces,” Irving said. “I’m telling you it’s right in front of our faces. They lie to us. ...There’s no concrete information except for the information that they’re giving us. They’re particularly putting you in a direction of what to believe and what not to believe. The truth is right there. You’ve just gotta go searching for it. I’ve been searching for it for a while.” Believe it or not, it wouldn’t end there either. In September of that same year, Irving attempted to pass off his claim as just him trolling the public. Yet, again he would state just one month later, that after doing his own research he had discovered “there was no real picture of Earth.” It wouldn’t be until October of 2018, when Irving finally put the issue to bed by apologizing for failing to understand the effect that his words had on young students, which in turn forced teachers to address the situation.

Vaccines for covid-19? Kyrie Irving wasn’t about that life

The global pandemic that stretched from late 2019 into 2021, brought with it extensive loss of life, economic ruin and psychological effects that are still be studied. That’s to say it was truly no joke. During that time, governments and citizens alike struggled with lockdowns, mask mandates and of course when they finally became available, vaccines. Enter Kyrie Irving and the vaccination scandal that ensued in New York. Without getting into to a long review of each and every step along the way, we’ll break it down like this: New York instituted a state wide mandate that required entertainers and athletes - anyone really - to be vaccinated if entering an arena. That meant that any players on the rosters of the Knicks and Nets couldn’t play home games if they were unvaccinated. With Kyrie’s refusal of the vaccine, the result was that he missed the large majority of Brooklyn’s campaign. The question of course, is ‘why?’

The answer to that question once again shed light on Irving’s apparent love affair with conspiracy theories. A Rolling Stone article at the time, had this to say: “Irving, who serves as a vice president on the executive committee of the players’ union, recently started following and liking Instagram posts from a conspiracy theorist who claims that “secret societies” are implanting vaccines in a plot to connect Black people to a master computer for ‘a plan of Satan.’ This Moderna microchip misinformation campaign has spread across multiple NBA locker rooms and group chats, according to several of the dozen-plus current players, Hall-of-Famers, league executives, arena workers and virologists interviewed for this story over the past week.” We’ll let you process that one. Take your time.

Remember Alex Jones? Kyrie Irving certainly does

In September of this year, Irving took a step away from easily dismissed conspiracy rhetoric and one closer to ideas and personalities that are truly offensive. Alex Jones, if you were unaware is a podcast and radio personality who has made quite a living off of peddling conspiracy theories. One such theory, was that the horrifically tragic mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, that took the lives of 27 people, 20 of whom were children was staged and did not actually occur. With that as context, it was another one of Jones’ theories about secret societies which Irving seemingly endorsed. “Yes, there have been corrupt empires. Yes, they manipulate. Yes, there are secret societies. Yes, there have been oligarchies throughout history,” Jones said at the time. “And yes, today in 2002, there is a tyrannical organization calling itself the New World Order.”

To be fair to Irving, he did distance himself from Jones last year in the wake of the civil suit brought against the provocateur, by the parents of the children killed at Sandy Hook. “I do not stand with Alex Jones’ position, narrative, court case that he had with Sandy Hook, or any of the kids that felt like they had to relive trauma, or parents that had to relive trauma, or to be dismissive to all the lives that were lost during that tragic event,” Irving said. “My post was a post from Alex Jones that he did in the early ‘90s or late ‘90s about secret societies in America of occults, and it’s true.”

Antisemitism is a serious thing and Kyrie Irving needs to learn that

If you missed our coverage of the story last year, let’s bring you up to speed. It went like this: Irving posted a link to a controversial documentary, that is widely regarded as antisemitic. After intense backlash, the Nets star along with the team itself, released a joint statement in addition to pledging $500K to the Antidefamation League. Though he acknowledged he had caused harm, Irving didn’t actually apologize, which led to NBA commissioner, Adam Silver, expressing his disappointment. Irving then stood firm and when finally asked if he was antisemitic in his views, was only evasive at best in his answers. The Nets at that point, took the decision to suspend their player without pay and here we are.

“I’m not here to argue over a person or a culture or a religion or what they believe,” Irving said. “Nah, this is what’s here. It’s on a public platform. Did I do anything illegal? Did I hurt anybody? Did I harm anybody? Am I going out and saying that I hate one specific group of people? ...So, I’m not going to stand down on anything that I believe in. I’m only going to get stronger because I’m not alone. I have a whole army around me.” Again, we’ll let you process that on your own time.

What can we expect from Kyrie Irving’s move to the Dallas Mavericks?

Here’s the thing: It was only a few months ago, that there were doubts as to whether Irving would play in the NBA again. Since that time, Irving has gone about his business in a way that is at the very least, professional. On the court he’s been productive in a Nets team that is not doing well. With the move to Dallas, comes the mouth-watering prospect of playing alongside Luka Doncic. The Slovenian is as good as they come and twice as clever. Irving on the other hand, brings with him ball handling ability that’s awe inspiring and all-round excellent game to go with it. The only problem is, that as much as he appears to have got a second lease on life in the NBA, there’s no clear indication that his tendency for the outlandish, won’t take away the opportunity to focus on what we really want to see Kyrie Irving do, play basketball.