It is appropriate that Kyrie Irving is a flat-Earth believer, because the weight of Charles Barkley’s words just pancaked him.
The candid TNT analyst and Basketball Hall of Famer told Irving to “shut the hell up” after the 28-year-old Brooklyn Nets star said he planned to skip media this season and after he called media “pawns” and players “artists” in an Instagram post.
“I’m not sure what he’s doing,” Barkley said on the ESPN show “Keyshawn, JWill & Zubin.” “I don’t like it. You know, they don’t pay you $40 million just to play basketball. Part of it is sitting down with you guys, sitting down with me and Kenny (Smith) and Ernie (Johnson) and Shaq (Shaquille O’Neal), talking to New York reporters. Being with the media is part of your professional obligation, and you can say what you want to say. But these guys today, they’re different. I don’t hate on them, but I’m not sure what point Kyrie is trying to make.”
Irving’s stance did not last. He received a $25,000 league fine and was back to the arduous task of connecting to fans by talking on Zoom press conferences this week.
“When he talks, I’m like, what is he saying and what is he trying to say?” Barkley said. “He starts talking about what an artist is. He’s a basketball player. That’s what he is. Listen, we’re not front-line responders. We’re not teachers. Yo, man, you dribble a basketball, stop acting like you’re the smartest person in the world.
“I’m like, ‘Well, first of all, you’re not.’ You only went to college for six months.”
Irving was burning sage around the TD Garden court in Boston before Friday’s game. He said he planned to continue “smudging” before every game to honor his Native American heritage. He was inducted into the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in 2018, joining his mother as a member.
“That’s his thing,” Nets teammate Kevin Durant told ESPN. “Kyrie probably sages his room before he plays 2K when he gets home.”