Kyrie Irving surprised everybody when it was revealed he was against the resume of the 2019/20 season at Walt Disney World in Orlando. The Brooklyn Nets star held an 80-player call on Friday where he explained why he doesn't believe it's a good thing for the NBA to restart the season amid the coronavirus crisis and the protests against racial injustice.
According to Jeff Goodman, Kyrie, Carmelo Anthony, and Chris Paul were part of the conversation and everybody had something to say. Kyrie sent a message to the league, claiming the players are part of a system that is trying to divide them.
“There’s only 20 guys actually getting paid, and I’m part of that. Let’s not pretend there’s not a tiered system purposely to divide all of us," he reportedly said.
"I don’t support going into Orlando. I’m not with the systematic racism and the bullshit. Something smells a little fishy," is another quote from Irving, as per Shams Charania.
The 2016 NBA champion has created a not-so-good reputation around the league, so it won't be crazy if people think this is Kyrie actually trying to divide players. As ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski recently wrote, he pitted himself against the league's establishment.
Irving's been a leader in sharing his thoughts on race and wealth in America, asking how precisely a predominately black group of NBA players should proceed in this climate of racial transformation in the country.
Irving has forged a reputation as a disruptor within his NBA career, and that's emerging again at this crucial moment for the NBA. Irving's stance has pitted himself against the league's establishment one more time, including his former Cavaliers teammate LeBron James. There's significant support to resume the season among the league's superstars -- most of whom are on playoff contenders -- and Irving seems to be relishing the clash.
"I'm not as interested in him as the messenger than I am in the message," one Western Conference player told ESPN on Friday. In some instances in the past several days, Irving has assured some in the NBPA that he's aligned with the broader plan surrounding the league's return in Orlando -- and then directed a far more skeptical tone to players he's engaged with within the Nets and across the league, sources said.
This is clearly not a good situation for the NBA. Even though they have stated they won't force or punish somebody that doesn't go to Orlando, the number of players doubting about going there increases every day.
Obviously, Kyrie's stance on the return of the season doesn't help them, more so knowing that more players are with him. There is still time until players go to Orlando to start training and get ready for the 22-team tournament the league is doing at Walt Disney World.
Once the moment arrives, we'll know what is going to happen with the NBA, the teams and the players.