We need to move past the lazy media interpretation of our number one assassin on the court, Kyrie Irving. Each of us has ready to hand stories that highlight Kyrie as any of "out there," disruptive or immature. I don’t propose a memory wipe or a blanket pardon for what has gone before in his life. Instead, my argument is fairly simple: he, like every other person placed on this planet, is to be accorded the latitude and space to become who he will be.
Yes, he has frustrated the basketball punditry with his actions and words. I have a hard time determining what that group has found more offensive, any of not serving as handmaiden to the myth of the Celtics, daring to reach beyond being Robin to LeBron’s Batman or exposing the ugly truth that many in the media in fact do function as mouthpieces for most, if not all teams.
Even if we only focus on the "negatives" of his public life, he should still be viewed as a young man who deserves to be granted space to grow. However, he is not simply the sum of his perceived negatives. The long list of charitable contributions and activities are beyond the ability of most of us to recount. He has purchased a home for the family of George Floyd. He has championed a higher profile for native/indigenous peoples. He was a lonely voice for consideration of not playing the rest of the past season with no national strategy for addressing the ravages of the pandemic. Now, he has made a proposal so astute that people either automatically dismiss it as not serious or much like 18th century accusations of witchcraft. Kobe Bryant as the logo would be so apt in so many ways, but that discussion is for another posting.
Ultimately, like all of us, Kyrie will grow to be who he will be (a truism that verges on tautology) but the piling on and purposeful misinterpretation of his motivations and inspirations is not only disrespectful to him, but insulting to basketball fans, Kyrie supporters and Nets enthusiasts. We have seen the devastation of lying and gaslighting on our country. The lack of rigorous discussion about Kyrie Irving is within that current of effluvia. We owe it to him, as another human being, to not only resist that trend, but to respect his right to grow the best way he knows how.