Updated: Jun 23
In light of recent protests and civil unrest surrounding the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Rayshard Brooks and so many others in recent weeks by police officers, NBA star Kyrie Irving recently came out to suggest that right now is not the time for the National Basketball Association to be making plans for a return to play (having been out since March 11 because of COVID-19) and that it’s simply just a way to distract the masses, and naturally he has been met with scrutiny from fellow players, fans and media members alike, with ESPN analyst Kendrick Perkins being the most vocal critic. But he’s also been backed by supporters like Floyd’s childhood friend and former NBA player Stephen Jackson, as well as Lakers center Dwight Howard, among others.
I sat down with my friend, Maya “Lowe Key” Lowe to break down Kyrie Irving’s views. While I would like sports to come back as much as the next person, I personally support what Irving had to say about how it’s not the right time for the NBA to come back. It’s one of many reasons why you see them get attacked and even blackballed when they make big political statements and after they advocate for social justice causes. Maya, on the other hand supports Irving’s brave stance but has made some really good points: professional athletes have some of the biggest platforms and influence in today’s world, regardless of what corner of the globe we’re in, and there are guys like LeBron James who’ve become very good at walking the walk while being among the best in the game at his sport. We both agreed that the media attacks about Kyrie for his stance (Kendrick Perkins, Kyrie's former teammate being the most vocal) have been disturbing to say the least.
With all of the talks about politics in the NBA, we couldn't miss out on talking about Colin Kaepernick as well. Maya believes he would come back to the league, but I’m under the impression that these reports of him getting workouts are nothing more than performative, much like DC’s mayor painting “Black Lives Matter” on the street but still ignoring the calls to defund the police department. I also feel that after three years, his voice truly is better where it is now than in the league, no matter how badly I personally want to see that play out.
Whose side are you on? Do you believe (as some players like LeBron James have suggested) that players with such large platforms can play ball and still inspire social change or can we not walk and chew gum at the same time? Listen to our associates over at “The Play-By-Play Analysis” podcast and let us know how you feel.