Kyrie Irving gestures, we respond.
Fortunately, we’re not the Brooklyn Nets, the franchise that couldn’t predict all the circumstances of the past two years, but needed to know that something was going to happen.
Somehow with Kevin Durant and his New York hometown background, they believed that Irving could be happy — or at least suffocate him with enough TLC to avoid this situation.
They defended him, apologized to him, and when it comes to finally holding him accountable, he wants to grab his ball and go home, or somewhere other than Barclays Center.
One thing Irving has always had correct, be it pointless or spectacular, he is enchanting. He draws as much attention when he’s entertained as when he pulls stunts behind the scenes.
The latter, an issue his third eye apparently didn’t see coming, centers on the Nets not wanting to give him a fully guaranteed maximum contract that will take him into his mid-thirties. He threatens to take his part-time services elsewhere while seeking full-time awards.
Let’s see, a talented but injury prone point…is H security guard who will instantly refuse to show up for practice or games, disregarding his coaches and teammates, is angry that his current employer considers him untrustworthy?
Perhaps he was lulled into a false sense of security by all the public displays of support from Sean Marks, Steve Nash and Durant. But they soon found out what the Boston Celtics and Cleveland Cavaliers found the hard way: There’s no need to make him happy.
Now, Irving was not presented with the perfect situations in Cleveland when he first got there and even after LeBron James returned to Northeast Ohio. Irving wanted his voice to be loudest, most important, both in the locker room and in front of the general public.
But it never lasted, and it frustrated him, of course.
Going to Boston and having to lead a group of youngsters wasn’t the ideal situation either, and although he initially promised the fanbase he would re-sign, he and Durant came up with an idea to play together – not quite original considering the last decade or so.
He was not equipped to lead, his intentions were not supported by effective methods, but in his right mind he probably felt that the lessons he had learned along the way would help him in Brooklyn.
But the world got confused and the NBA needed rules and structure to keep this money train moving.
Irving and structure don’t mix, as he seems to function only in anarchy. He’s missed more games than he’s played for Brooklyn, and a contestant in just one playoff series wins for his troubles.
Irving is guided by his own principles, whatever they are at the moment. At times, he can seem sincere, like reconnecting with a long-lost relative you’ve loved so much. In the next breath, he says and does something that makes you remember why there was so much distance in the first place.
No situation in itself is unforgivable, even though his refusal to get vaccinated caused a knock-on effect that ended in a four-game sweep at the hands of the ever-young Celtics.
Every microstep creates the macro staircase, and at the end of it it’s not a stairway to NBA heaven.
Why is it always him? And always something that gets in the way of him just going out and carrying out his God-given, personally refined ability to play this game?
He’s easier to defend on the ground than off it, and he’s invincible at his best between those four lines. But therein lies the corner the Nets have willingly pushed themselves into.
Irving’s talent has always been worth more to them than even other franchises, as they had a foothold in the New York area and the league in general. Durant and Irving gave a black and white franchise a bit of color, and the Nets had to give them some wiggle room.
Irving colored outside the lines and tested the infrastructure still under construction. His influence was always positioned alongside Durant as opposed to his own worth, the value his talent demanded, but his resume never seemed to show.
He wanted to be all the loot of the franchise man, but never did the necessary sweating power, telling more than showing. Maybe his vulnerability deserved some grace at times, but that doesn’t mean someone is fit to lead.
Anarchy doesn’t make sense, and neither do salary demands.
If Irving were a player who raises all the tides, if he were someone whose mere presence inspired teammates to play with him and for him, he would have not only the Brooklyn Nets as realistic suitors, but any team without an All-NBA point. guard .
He is not a loser, but the question is to what extent he only influences the winning. It can be the perfect complement in the perfect situation, but those conditions only arise with seismic changes in a landscape.
And the NBA’s tectonic plate has no room for another right now.
He cannot be trusted on a number of levels, and deep down he knows this.
He challenges the Nets to let him test the free-agent market, and the Nets know he doesn’t want to leave Durant.
If he were to leave, there’s no franchise that can absorb both Irving and Durant, so he’d be leaving his friend with very little chance of reuniting. He wants to stay, but stay on his terms with the money and perceived influence that come with it.
Irving probably has more influence on the conversation in the NBA than he practically does in the building where he occasionally shows up. A contract full of incentives goes against his sensibilities because, in the greatest display of self-consciousness he could show, he knows he won’t always be there.
It will be something – a birthday, an anniversary, a full moon, a solar eclipse – that prevents him from working that day or that week.
Accepting a conditional deal wouldn’t set an unappealing precedent for the future, any more than this entire fiasco is a reflection of NBA players as a whole, with CBA talks looming.
Irving is one of one, in every way possible.
Saying Irving “means well” was always the fallback, as he was a young man trying to find his way in an environment where there is only room for so much grace.
At some point, though, it can’t be everyone’s fault, it can’t just be intentions or special circumstances.
At some point, professionals have to be professionals.