More often than not, Kyrie Irving makes the news for non-basketball reasons.
He's controversial, outspoken, and somewhat mysterious, which is why some people bought into the narrative of him retiring if the Nets decided to trade him.
The truth is that, as polarizing as Irving is, no one can deny that he's one of the best basketball players on Earth, and his impact is felt night in and night out.
In an interview with Basketball News, NBA legend Isiah Thomas explained just how important Irving is for the Nets' aspirations:
“The LeBron James-led Cleveland Cavs that came back and beat the Golden State Warriors after they had a 73-9 season — and LeBron James was off the charts in every statistical category — but the Cleveland Cavs do not win the championship without Kyrie Irving on that team,” Thomas said. “Put me down on record. The Nets with the team constructed the way it currently is, cannot, and will not, win the championship if he is not there. Period.”
Then, when ESPN posted Thomas' quote, Kevin Durant couldn't help to agree:
Thomas also had Kyrie's back and defended him for constantly standing up against the media and making his voice heard:
“I respect the independence that Kyrie has shown throughout this entire process. Just like we [do] as professional athletes, we as human beings, we as fathers, husbands, brothers — sometimes we get it wrong. And at the same time, sometimes the media gets it wrong,” Thomas said. “And when the media gets called out on being wrong, their response is almost ‘How dare you?’
“Just like one side can be wrong, so can the other side. So, don’t jump on me when I’m wrong, but be quiet when you’re wrong. You received information about me, and what I am thinking and what my intentions are, and whoever told you that didn’t tell you correctly. Now, this is what I meant, this is my voice. This isn’t whatever source, this is my voice. So respect my voice, and that’s what Kyrie has been saying. And he has been very authentic in his voice," Thomas concluded.
Kyrie is one of the biggest characters in the league. But he's also one of the most talented players of all time.
So yeah, you or the media may not like him as a person, and that's valid. But you can't disrespect him or take anything away from him from a basketball standpoint