Heading into the NBA’s All-Star weekend, Cleveland Cavaliers point guard and former injured Duke star Kyrie Irving made some (#extra) news.
On a podcast with teammates Channing Frye and Richard Jefferson, Irving emphatically stated, “This is not even a conspiracy theory. The Earth is flat.”
Right on cue, his statement led to a media firestorm.
Reddit exposed him quickly. Soon Irving was trending on Twitter. And then the suspicious news headlines started rolling out. (A personal favorite, the Washington Post’s “Kyrie Irving believes the Earth is flat. It is not.”)
Irving’s teammate LeBron James and Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green both came to his aid, big grins on their faces.
“If he decides he wants to say the Earth is flat, then so be it,” James told a reporter.
Green extended Irving’s skepticism: “I can make a round picture with my iPhone today, on the panoramic camera, and make it look round.”
Even the NBA commissioner Adam Silver chimed in.
“Kyrie and I went to the same college,” he said, referring to Duke.
“He may have taken some different courses than I did,” he added.
When confronted by reporters, Kyrie elaborated, suppressing a smile: “I think it’s interesting for people to find out on their own. I’ve seen a lot of things that my educational system said was real and turned out to be completely fake. I don’t mind going against the grain in terms of my thoughts and what I believe.”
Aha! Now it makes sense, right? Social commentary. It was all a grand scheme to start a conversation on societal conditioning. Right?
I’m not sure what Irving’s up to. Is he being a joker? Stirring up the sports media into an anxious confusion? Daring them to question an athlete of color? Is he actually suspicious? Radically suspicious? A conspiracy theorist? Or is he beginning to start a greater conversation about what we’re taught in schools? Is he exposing the stupidity of global warming deniers? Of Betsy DeVos? Or fake news? Or alternative facts?
As likely as anything else, it wasn’t intentional at all.
Whatever the case, I did enjoy seeing reporters squirm and debate uncomfortably. I’m sure the players did, too.
Besides, as an NBA’s all-star, capable of inhuman feats with a basketball, he’s certainly more familiar with spherical principles than the rest of us.