Kyrie Irving is known for many things—good and bad. While he dazzles fans with his handles, he also rubs some people the wrong way with his strange antics. Kyrie has gifted the NBA community with the elderly pick-up legend Uncle Drew and he also gave fans years of flat Earth jokes.
Most recently, he’s reportedly gone off the grid as he refuses to suit up for the Brooklyn Nets due to still undisclosed reasons. Kyrie has already missed three straight games. But a video has surfaced showing the flashy guard allegedly celebrating a birthday party with his family.
Clearly, something’s not right yet again. Various reports also say that the Nets are growing impatient with the six-time All-Star.
In honor of the enigmatic guard, it’s time to rank his 10 most memorable off-court moments.
10. “I’m That Great Of A Shooter”
Kyrie’s first postseason run with the Boston Celtics isn’t fondly remembered by Beantown sports fans. Aside from losing in the second round, the way the Celtics lost left a bitter aftertaste.
The Milwaukee Bucks manhandled the Bucks in Game 4 and Kyrie Irving left the floor even before the final buzzer. He missed 15 of his 22 attempts and said he should have taken even more shots.
“I’m that great of a shooter,” Irving told reporters.
9. Sage Burning at TD Garden
In his first return to the TD Garden against the Boston Celtics, cameras caught Kyrie walking around the arena burning sage in what is a Native American purification ritual said to remove negative energy from a space.
“It just comes from a lot of native tribes,” Kyrie explained to reporters after the game. “Just cleanse the energy, want to make sure that we’re all balanced.”
Kevin Durant probably gave the best insight to how the scene wasn’t really a big deal, saying it’s just a Kyrie thing. He joked that his superstar teammate sages his room before playing NBA 2K at home.
8. Kyrie Says Sorry to LeBron
After a loss to the Orlando Magic back in the 2018-19 season, Kyrie Irving said he reached out to LeBron James and apologized for his past actions.
“I wanted to be the guy that led us to a championship. I wanted to be the leader. I wanted to be all that.”
Irving admitted he “should have kept it in house” when criticizing his younger teammates after the loss to the Magic.
7. Kyrie the “Disruptor”
COVID-19 and social injustice plagued the summer, directly affecting the men of the NBA. Despite all of that, basketball still returned to action.
That return didn’t happen without a bit of opposition from Kyrie, who Adrian Wojnarowski characterized as the “disruptor.”
Irving, the Vice President of the National Basketball Players Association, led a conference call with roughly 80 plus NBA and WNBA players. During this call, players had a chance to voice their concerns regarding the plan considering the current health risks and social unrest.
According to reports, Irving was opposed to returning but was willing to do whatever the majority decided. Irving believed that the resumption of the 2019-20 NBA season will only provide a distraction from the fight against racial injustices and that the health risk is being underestimated.
While Irving had many valid points, and the league’s play did pause while in the bubble due to social injustice, there were plenty of people who were not feeling Irving’s stance.
In the initial report of Irving’s stance, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski described Irving’s stance as disruptive:
“Irving has forged a reputation as a disruptor within his NBA career, and that’s emerging again at this crucial moment for the NBA. Irving’s stance has pitted himself against the league’s establishment one more time, including his former Cavaliers teammate LeBron James. There’s significant support to resume the season among the league’s superstars—most of whom are on playoff contenders—and Irving seems to be relishing the clash.”
Meanwhile, Kendrick Perkins said that he was confused with it all.
I’m sooo damn confused when it comes down to Kyrie Irving….just 9 days ago he was saying this now all of sudden it’s something different?! Now he’s started unnecessary drama between the NBA brothers which is something we don’t need right now. https://t.co/Je1374Bh9a
— Kendrick Perkins (@KendrickPerkins) June 14, 2020
Again, the league ended up pausing for a day due to the very thing Irving called out a month prior.
6. The Game of Chess
Irving is the gift that keeps giving when it comes to quotes. His preseason relationship with the media gave the basketball world plenty of quotes to take and run with.
Irving raised eyebrows when he issued a statement that his play would “speak for itself” this season, seemingly boycotting the media.
While he may have felt this strategy was a good idea, the league didn’t feel the same way, ruling that his ‘boycott” was in direct violation of league media obligations.
Both Kyrie Irving and the Brooklyn organization were hit with fines of $25,000 apiece for the truancy violation.
Irving then took to Instagram to tell the world that he “does not talk to pawns.”
"I do not talk to Pawns."
Kyrie Irving responds following being fined by the NBA for failure to comply with the league's media requirements. pic.twitter.com/WPgj3MPZXH
— NBA on ESPN (@ESPNNBA) December 11, 2020
Shots were fired at both the league office, who administered the fine, and basketball reporters. Considering the last Kyrie Iriving memory we visited, where Wojnarowski reported that Irving has “forged a reputation as a disruptor within his career” by often going against the league’s establishment, there is some validity in Irving’s beef with the media.
How he handles it is a whole different subject.
5. Cavs Trade
Kyrie Irving doesn’t speak to pawns nor does he stay in a place where he isn’t happy. Believeland knows this all too well.
Irving’s desire to leave Cleveland during the 2017 offseason was so great that he reportedly threatened to have a minor knee surgery midway through the 2017-18 season.
Irving threatened to first sit out training camp and then undergo surgery that would keep him out most — if not all — of the season.
Irving requested the trade due to his displeasure of playing next to LeBron James.
4. Off the Grid Kyrie Irving
The most recent Kyrie Irving moment of this list is his off the grid saga that is still a developing story.
It all started on January 6th, during the Capitol siege. There were reports that Irving decided not to play in response to what was going on.
Again those are just reports. Irving himself hasn’t said a word on the subject. His coach, Steve Nash, said he doesn’t know why Irving isn’t playing.
According to Jason Dumars, Kyrie is “off the grid” at this moment, so it’s unclear when he will be coming back to play with the Nets.
Steve Nash said he does not know why Kyrie Irving won't play tonight against the Sixers, as in, he is unaware of what KI's personal issue is. Nash said he reached out to Kyrie and did not hear back
— Joe Vardon (@joevardon) January 7, 2021
Things got a little messier when videos surfaced on social media showing Irving at a large gathering with his family.
— OpenCourt-Basketball (@OpenCourtFB) January 12, 2021
Depending on when the video was taken, Irving could face a sizeable fine for missing games due to violating league COVID-19 protocol. Currently, Irving is set to skip his fourth consecutive game.
3. LeBron James Sneak Diss
On the debut episode of Durant’s podcast, “The Etcs,” Irving made what many considered a backhanded diss at his former teammate LeBron James.
“One thing I’ve always been comfortable with, I felt like I was the best option on every team I played for down the stretch,” Irving said, according to ESPN. “This is the first time in my career I’ve looked down and be like, ‘That motherf***** can make that shot too.’ And he’ll probably do it a lot easier.”
He continued: “It’s not so much deferring because in past situations where I didn’t take the last shot, I felt guilty. I want this game-winning shot, but also, you want to trust your teammates. Not that I didn’t trust my teammates, but I felt like I was the best option.”
While he did not name James specifically, fans quickly jumped on the fact that Irving did not honor James as a similarly clutch leader– especially since James won Finals MVP next to Irving.
While Kyrie Irving has a fair amount of clutch shots in his time in the NBA, including the shot that won the 2016 Finals, James has made far more game-changing plays in his historical career.
Irving did take to social media following his initial words to try to clear the air, but by then, few were buying it.
2. Kyrie Irving vs. The Young Guys
Following the Celtics’ 105-103 loss to the Orlando Magic during their 2018-19 campaign, Irving had a message for his young supporting cast.
“The young guys don’t know what it takes to be a championship-level team,” Irving told Keith Smith of Real GM. “What it takes every day. And if they think it is hard now, what do they think it will be like when we’re trying to get to the Finals?”
That young supporting cast in which Irving was referring to, had just found success without Irving during the 2018 playoffs– coming just a game short of a Finals appearance. Irving believed that the pressure that came with the young stars’– Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Terry Rozier, and Marcus Smart– surprising success is affecting their play.
“I mean, we had nothing to lose last year,” Irving said, via the Boston Herald. “We had nothing to lose, and everybody could play free and do whatever they wanted and nobody had any expectations. We were supposed to be at a certain point, we surpassed that. Young guys were supposed to be at a certain point, they surpassed that…
“We come into this season, expectations, and it’s real. Everyone from the coaching staff to the players, it’s very much real every single day, so that’s new. It’s tough. It’s hard, you know, so I think that what we’re facing now is nothing compared to being on that stage trying to get a gold trophy.”
That Boston team went on to underachieve and the narrative of Kyrie Irving being a lackluster leader blossomed.
1. The Case of a Flat Earth
The storied flat Earth saga began when Irving appeared on the Road Trippin’ podcast with his then-Cleveland Cavaliers teammates Richard Jefferson and Channing Frye.
During the podcast, Irving said, “The Earth is flat. … I’m telling you, it’s right in front of our faces. They lie to us.”
Nearly a year later, Irving elaborated on his theory in an interview with UConn women’s basketball coach Geno Auriemma.
Irving said the following on the subject:
“The whole intent behind it, Coach, it wasn’t to bash science. It wasn’t to like have the intent of starting a rage and be seen as this insane individual. When I started seeing comments and things about universal truths that I had known, like I had questions.
“When I started actually doing research on my own and figuring out that there is no real picture of Earth, not one real picture of Earth—and we haven’t been back to the moon since 1961 or 1969—it becomes like conspiracy, too.”
While this is Kyrie Irving’s current greatest hit, knowing Irving’s reputation there will likely be more instances to add to this list.