ESPN commentator Stephen A. Smith criticized Kyrie Irving, whom the Brooklyn Nets recently barred from competing in practice and upcoming basketball activities this season until he was vaccinated.
Smith recently made an appearance on Don Lemon’s CNN show, where he criticized the NBA star for his position and commended the Brooklyn Nets for making the difficult decision.
“The mandate is in New York. It’s in L.A. now. It’s in San Francisco,” Smith said on the show. “If this man does not get vaccinated, he would be violating the mandate and as a result, he would miss 41 home games for the Brooklyn Nets, plus a couple of games at Madison Square Garden against the New York Knicks. Plus a game in L.A. Plus a game in San Francisco.”
“Sorry, if you can’t take a vaccine that 6.2 billion people in the world have already taken,” the ESPN pundit exclaimed. “Trying to claim that you think there is some kind of a conspiracy going on and you want to be that defiant and leave the rest of your team hanging — the Kevin Durants, the James Hardens of the world. As far as I’m concerned, the hell with you!”
On Tuesday’s episode of ESPN’s First Take Smith, called the Kyrie Irving “some of the stupidest nonsense.’
“I’ve been covering the NBA now for almost 25 years. This is some of the stupidest nonsense I’ve ever seen. Just flat-out stupid.”
“I am not calling Kyrie Irving stupid. Kyrie Irving, I happen to believe is an intelligent brother whose heart is in the right place. But now you’ve regressed to an alarming level of self-righteousness, it not only makes you look hypocritical and untrustworthy, it makes you, look what I know you are not, which is flat-out stupid.”
Former NBA point guard turned analyst Jay Williams took offense to Smith’s choice of words.
“I’ve had COVID twice, I get it. I just want to be careful when we start going down this road that we’re going to act like Kyrie Irving being vaccinated or not being vaccinated is going to change the minds of millions of people….”
“I’m just telling you how it feels from people, Stephen A. When you start calling people’ stupid,’ or you start saying that they’re selfish, these things start going all over the internet, that creates a different narrative and people start fighting back against that narrative. I’m just telling you how it is on the other side, Stephen A. I know you have your thoughts and how you see things….”
On Wednesday evening, Kyrie Irving hopped on Instagram Live. Irving shared his stance and why he has decided to be unvaccinated. During his live session, Irving addressed the media’s perception of him.
“To continue to play with my name, image, and to continue to paint me in a certain type of way without me speaking. Like these dudes are puppets come on you going on tv speaking about stuff that my family has to see, friends have to see, and supporters,” said Irving.
“Then I have to come on here address all this in a certain type of matter because it has to come authentically. It can’t come with a script these dudes read off scripts, they call me unintelligent, and all these different types of names, and they would never say it to my face.”
Irving said he is here to inspire countless individuals, not just with what he can do on the basketball court but also by using his mind and voice.
The Athletic’s Shams Charania reported that the Nets would no longer offer Irving his four-year extension worth $187 million.
“He was willing to sacrifice, at the end of the day, 16 million dollars in salary this upcoming year and 186 million dollars, as far as an extension, that he will not be offered now,” Charania said, via The Glue Guys Podcast.
Irving also addressed the rumors that he would be retiring from the NBA on Wednesday evening.
“Don’t believe that I’m retiring,” said Irving.
“Don’t believe that I’m giving up this game for a vaccine mandate.”
He said that he supports the first responders for all they are doing to help during this time.
The NBA 2021-22 season starts next week.