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Kyrie Irving invokes Martin Luther King Jr. in bizarre defense of recent criticism

Kyrie Irving, Nets, Martin Luther King Jr.

Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving invoked the name of Martin Luther King Jr. in a recent defense of the criticism he has faced after he noted his team needed more pieces to become a championship contender.

Irving had some strong words over the weekend, defending his intent — but none were as head-scratching as his martyr-like comparison to MLK, who did a lot more than speak out for what he felt should change.

Transcript via Dan Feldman of NBC Sports:

“When I was out for those seven weeks and not saying anything and still people are still saying things about me. It’s inevitable,” the Nets star said in a long rant on Saturday. “They crucified Martin Luther King for speaking about peace and social integration. You can go back to historical leaders and great people in society that do great things, and they’re still going to talk s*** about them. It is what it is.”

Irving missed nearly two months with a right shoulder impingement before returning against the Atlanta Hawks, yet his comments after being absent for so long rang hollow, drawing plenty of criticism from former players, analysts, and social media.

It was Irving who helped Kevin Durant and DeAndre Jordan land with the Nets, stringing them along as a three-musketeers type of deal that brought the trio to Brooklyn in the summer.

Despite having played in only 15 games this season, he’s making passive demands of the organization without having shown any palpable leadership skills. The Nets are 5-10 with Irving in the starting lineup, including losing three of the last four games since his return.

To make matters worse, Irving will not suit up for Monday’s game against the Philadelphia 76ers during MLK Day, a hero he invoked with such fervor when trying to break free of his criticism. The star point guard did have some poignant words about MLK on Monday morning, but that doesn’t erase the weirdness of the prior comments.