After $25,000 fine, Kyrie Irving says 'I don't talk to pawns'
Nets star Kyrie Irving has made it clear he wants to control his own narrative this season rather than fulfill his NBA-mandated media obligations. If the message Irving posted Friday on Instagram is any indication, his personal narrative figures to be far more provocative than whatever media questions he might answer about wins and losses.
Irving’s Instagram story was a clear response to the NBA’s decision on Thursday to fine him and the Nets organization $25,000 each for what the league described as "Irving’s refusal on several occasions this week to participate in team media availability."
Irving began with a quote from Malcolm X that read: "I’ve had enough of someone else’s propaganda. I’m for truth no matter who tells it. I’m for justice no matter who it’s for or against. I’m a human being first and foremost, and as such I am for whoever and whatever benefits humanity as a whole."
Then, he directly addressed the fine and NBA media access regulations the league has negotiated with the Professional Basketball Writers' Association and that apply to all players.
"I pray we utilize the 'fine money' for the marginalized communities in need, especially seeing where our world is presently," Irving wrote. "[I am] I am here for Peace, Love, and Greatness. So stop distracting me and my team, and appreciate the Art. We move different over here.
"I do not talk to Pawns. My attention is worth more."
Irving has not spoken to the media since training camp opened on Dec. 1. All 14 other players on the 15-man roster of NBA contracts plus Chris Chiozza, who played for the Nets last season but now is on a training-camp contract, have spoken to the media. Superstar Kevin Durant and several other top veterans each have spoken twice in the past two weeks.
After turning down several interview requests the first week of camp, Irving issued a statement on Dec. 4 in which he said: "Instead of speaking to the media today, I am issuing this statement to ensure that my message is conveyed properly.
"My goal this season is to let my work on and off the court speak for itself. Life hit differently this year, and it requires us, it requires me, to move differently. So, this is the beginning of that change."
Irving’s publicist later said, "This doesn’t mean he won’t do traditional media." But his Instagram post suggests otherwise.
When he was with the Celtics prior to joining the Nets before the 2019-20 season on a four-year deal worth $136.5 million, he had a difficult relationship with the media in Boston. More recently, Irving appeared on Durant’s podcast "The ETCs" and said Durant was the first teammate he felt confident in as an equally good option as himself to take a game-winning shot.
Former Cavaliers teammate LeBron James, who won the 2016 NBA title together with Irving, was upset. Speaking on a recent podcast with Nets announcer Richard Jefferson, James said, "I played with Kyrie for three seasons. The whole time I was there, I only wanted to see him be MVP of our league. I only cared about his success, and it just didn’t align…
"We were still able to win a championship, and we never could align. But I only cared about his well-being both on and off the floor, and it kind of hurt me a little bit."
Irving later said his comments were not meant as an insult toward James and called it a "false narrative" that he blamed on "clickbait society" for blowing up. Yet, his own self-published comments seem destined to stir the social media pot.
The Nets open preseason play Sunday at Barclays Center, but Irving’s media availability is uncertain.