Star Point Guard Kyrie Irving risks not playing this NBA season in order to stay unvaccinated from COVID-19. The loss of Irving would cause the Nets to lose their position as the favorite to win the NBA title in the ‘21-’22 season.
In the beginning Irving was known as the bright and curious young star of the NBA. Irving attended the prestigious Duke University, starred in the “Uncle Drew” Nike commercial series that was so popular it was made into a movie and hit one of the most clutch shots in NBA history that won the Cleveland Cavaliers the NBA championship.
Today, Irving is the most controversial player in professional basketball. The same voices in the media who sing his praise on the court, call for him to retire and state that Irving is a distraction to his team and worse, a person who spreads disinformation that can be fatal to those who listen.
So when did the public’s opinion change and why?
Irving – who is both Black and Lakota, began to connect with his family heritage to understand himself, especially Indigenous roots as Irvings’s Lakota mother passed when was four. In 2018, Irving became a member of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and has since paid homage through tribe centered show designs, donations, and advocacy. Around this time Irving would begin to express frustration with US education even stating “They lie to us.”
On Irving’s Instagram, you will regularly see posts discussing the treaties with Indigenous tribes broken by the US government, James Baldwin quotes and criticism of the lack of honesty in the US public school system. Frequently Irving is reposting from unofficial pages dedicated to advocacy for Black and Indigenous history, sources that can be run by anybody. Looking for truth through social media causes Irving’s beliefs to blur the lines from little-known facts to fictional conspiracy theories like “flat earth” and vaccine conspiracies amongst others.
Truth is, there are a lot of young minorities who think like Irving. Distrustful of government sources because of the lack of honesty in public schools and other U.S institutions. After taking an African-American history course at NC State, talking to an elder, or searching the internet many agree with Irving’s statement “they lie to us.”
The history of U.S race relations is broadly painted in public schools but omits facts that challenge America’s commitment to its main values. Hiding these truths causes one to be hurt, distrustful, and question current reality. These secrets alter one’s reality when the realization comes that had they been born 200 years earlier the founding father they were taught to love may hate on them or that the Nazis they were taught to hate got many of their racist ideas from the US. Failing to address the inconvenient truths of the history of everyone in this country is not only irresponsible and uncompassionate but allows us to repeat our mistakes.
Irving has donated millions of dollars to causes such as WNBA player payment, HBCU Universities, Indigenous issues and meals for those in need. He has provided quotes like “My purpose is bigger than basketball” and has goals listed like empowering, uplifting, and educating Black and Indigenous youth. It’s clear that Irving wants to leave a positive mark on future generations.
Irving’s reasoning for not taking the vaccine is wrong but the larger issue to be discussed is what led to this. Should “their” (the government) vaccine be trusted? Have you ever heard of Tuskegee, the Wilmington Insurrection, or the death of Fred Hampton? For most of the U.S population, the answer would be probably not. That’s the real issue here.
If Irving was taught the truth from the beginning, then he and many young people like him wouldn’t get lost in an attempt to find it.