One of the most polarizing players in the NBA these days is Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving.
Though Irving is without a doubt one of the most skilled players in the league and incredibly entertaining to watch on the court, his personality off the court has led him to sour on many NBA fans.
Irving seems to display an odd combination of being rather ignorant while thinking that he is the smartest person in the room. He has spread conspiracy theories related to the flat Earth model.
Perhaps more harmfully, Irving has been an outspoken critic of the COVID-19 vaccine.
If I can work and be unvaccinated, then all of my brothers and sisters who are also unvaccinated should be able to do the same, without being discriminated against, vilified, or fired. ♾🤞🏾
This enforced Vaccine/Pandemic is one the biggest violations of HUMAN RIGHTS in history.
— Chief Hélà 🤞🏾 (@KyrieIrving) September 20, 2022
He remains unvaccinated and appears to believe that he is some kind of martyr due to his unwillingness to get vaccinated.
Countless individuals have come out to criticize Irving for his decision, and all-time NBA great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is the latest individual to do just that. Abdul-Jabbar recently came forward to claim that Irving has tarnished his reputation and the reputations of athletes.
As Abdul-Jabbar sees it, Irving is bolstering the reputation that athletes have of being “dumb jocks.”
“Kyrie Irving would be dismissed as a comical buffoon if it weren’t for his influence over young people who look up to athletes,” he wrote on his Substack. “When I look at some of the athletes who have used their status to actually improve society — Colin Kaepernick, LeBron James, Muhammad Ali, Bill Russel, Billie Jean King, Arthur Ashe, and more — it becomes clear how much Irving has tarnished the reputations of all athletes who strive to be seen as more than dumb jocks.”
This season, Irving will at least look look to improve his reputation on the court even if his reputation off of it may not be salvageable. He played in less than half of his Brooklyn Nets’ regular season games last season, primarily due to his unwillingness to get the COVID-19 vaccine.
He then played rather poorly in the playoffs, and many claimed that his lackluster showing had to do with the lack of time he had with his teammates to build chemistry on the court.
Now, he’s surely trying to bounce back from that. However, it seems that no matter what Irving does, Abdul-Jabbar won’t be all that impressed.