Now entering his tenth season, Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving remains one of the NBA’s best players. At just 28 years old, he has already won a championship with the Cleveland Cavaliers, and has six All Star appearances, and has been named to the All-NBA Second Team and the All-NBA Third Team. With the Nets, Irving will have a chance to contend for his second title with fellow All Star Kevin Durant and new head coach Steve Nash next season.
But aside from his mesmerizing ball handling skills and shotmaking ability, another thing that Irving has become known for is for saying things we don’t usually hear from players. For instance, earlier this month, while speaking to Durant on his teammate’s show, Irving made a comment about their dynamic with coaches that surprised some people.
I don’t really see us having a head coach. You know what I mean? KD could be a head coach. I could be a head coach.
Irving’s comments raised some eyebrows, with ESPN anchor Stephen A. Smith questioning why he implied that he didn’t need a coach after the team just hired one in Nash.
But when it comes to Irving’s out of left field comments, perhaps the most well-known are his statements about the shape of the planet and other conspiracy theories, which he made back when he played for the Cavaliers and the Boston Celtics.
In February 2017, right before the All Star Weekend, the former Duke Blue Devil was a guest on the Road Trippin’ podcast of his Cavaliers teammates Richard Jefferson and Channing Frye. During the interview, Irving asked Jefferson and Frye if they believed the earth was round. His teammates laughed and then said they believed it. That was when Irving, who just a year earlier made one of the biggest shots in NBA Finals history, first claimed that the earth is flat, and that he didn’t believe it was just a conspiracy.
He then cautioned his teammates not to believe everything that’s been taught to them and to do their own research because “they” lie to us.
“What I’ve been taught is that the earth is round. But if you really think about it from a landscape of the way we travel, the way we move and the fact that, can you really think of us rotating around the sun and all planets aligned, rotating in specific dates, being perpendicular with what’s going on with these planets.”
Apparently, when Kyrie Irving said the word planets, he put them on quotes, so Jefferson asked him to clarify, which he did. Sort of.
“Because, everything that they send—or that they want to say they’re sending—doesn’t come back. There is no concrete information except for the information that they’re giving us. They’re particularly putting you in the direction of what to believe and what not to believe. The truth is right there, you just got to go searching for it.”
In the same interview, the former Rookie of the Year mentioned other conspiracy theories, such as believing that President John F. Kennedy was assassinated because he wanted to “end the bank cartel in the world,” and that the CIA tried to kill musician Bob Marley. Naturally, a lot of people were surprised, since all it takes is a simple Google search or a few seconds of watching a live feed of the earth from the International Space Station to disprove some of his theories.
The day after the interview, Irving was again asked about it after his name trended on Twitter. But instead of saying it was a joke, he doubled down on his comment. And when confronted with the fact that there are pictures of the earth showing its round shape, Irving said that he had also been shown a lot of pictures that later turned out to be fake.
Kyrie Irving was trending on Twitter today because he believes the Earth is flat. I asked him about it. pic.twitter.com/ODe9aP9qmK
— Arash Markazi (@ArashMarkazi) February 18, 2017
Irving’s comments also seemed to resonate with other athletes such as Wilson Chandler, who was then playing for the Denver Nuggets, and wide receiver Stefon Diggs, then of the Minnesota Vikings, although it’s unclear if Diggs agreed with Irving or was just trolling people.
Throughout the All Star Weekend, the Cavaliers point guard was asked about it, and at one point even asked reporters why his view on the matter was important and why it was the only takeaway from his appearance on his teammates’ podcast. Kyrie Irving’s All Star teammate at the time, LeBron James, was eventually asked about his thoughts on his co-star possibly being a flat earther. James, however, was surprisingly supportive.
LeBron James: "Kyrie is my little brother… If he decides the earth is flat, that's ok." pic.twitter.com/UjiyVGG1uw
— Ben Golliver (@BenGolliver) February 18, 2017
It should be noted, however, that when they were being interviewed, Irving and James were smiling and chuckling, raising the possibility that Irving wasn’t actually serious being a flat earther.
After the Cavaliers lost to the Golden State Warriors in the Finals, Irving left Cleveland and James to join the Celtics. But the questions about his views on the shape of the earth persisted, and Irving continued to defend his views, at one point questioning if there was actually a real picture of the earth. At times, however, he seemed open to the possibility of the changing his views, treating the subject less as a scientific fact and more as a debate topic, not unlike someone’s views on the greatest basketball player of all time.
Like I said, I do research on both sides. I’m not against anyone that thinks the Earth is round. I’m not against anyone that thinks it’s flat. I just love hearing the debate. It’s fun to talk about.
But despite defending his views and at times admitting that he was unsure, no one has been able to get a definitive answer from Irving. Not even talk show host Jimmy Kimmel, who invited the point guard on his show to talk about joining the Celtics, being Lebron’s teammate, and of course, his views on the shape of the planet.
At the end of the interview, Kimmel even gave Kyrie Irving a gift – a basketball painted to look like a globe, which he seemed to appreciate.
The definitive answer would come a few months later, when Irving finally put an end to the discussion about his views on the shape of the earth. In an appearance at the Forbes Under 30 Summit in October 2018, the point guard issued an apology to science teachers for saying that the earth was flat, admitting that he didn’t realize the effects his statement would have and saying that he was “really huge into conspiracies” at the time he made the comments.
“To all the science teachers, everybody coming up to me like, `You know I’ve got to reteach my whole curriculum?’ I’m sorry.’ I apologize. I apologize.”
Kyrie Irving’s apology ended more than a year and a half of questions, interviews, and analysis of his statements about being a flat-earther. But even if he may have backed down on his comments about the earth being flat, Irving has shown that his interviews, much like his play on the court, are a must-watch.