With Kyrie Irving accustomed to being at the center of controversy, he defended Memphis Grizzlies superstar Ja Morant by passing blame onto the media.
After serving an eight-game suspension for going on Instagram Live while holding a gun in a Denver nightclub earlier this month, Morant was with the Grizzlies and watching from the bench as they beat Irving’s Mavericks 112-108 Monday night. Following the game, Irving embraced Morant with a hug and a private message.
Irving was later asked about the advice he would give to Morant as someone who has similarly been in the “harsh spotlight,” albeit for different reasons. Earlier this season, Irving was suspended for failing to disavow antisemitism after he promoted a film that was widely criticized for containing antisemitic tropes.
“When you’re dealing with particular hardships in the public eye, especially with the media being attracted to just keeping up with what we’re doing, or what’s the next kind of grab or story,” Irving said about the media’s coverage of Morant.
“I don’t want to assume anything by every media member, but that’s just the way it seems from me and my perspective. It’s just, there was an overload of judgment on Ja. And there was an overload of judgment on what I had going on, and there’s usually an overload of judgment from the public court of opinion.”
Irving doesn’t want judgement passed on himself, Morant or any other player, which is a reasonable expectation. But he repeatedly passes judgement on the media, as he did again Monday night by accusing the press of “being attracted” to the next story as it pertains to their coverage of Morant.
Morant has displayed a pattern of poor off-court decisions this season, but handling a gun in a Denver nightclub garnered the most attention and headlines. That attention wasn’t the media’s doing, it was Morant who brought the incident into the public eye by broadcasting himself on Instagram Live.
After the nightclub incident, Morant apologized and announced he would be stepping away from the Grizzlies even before the NBA handed him a suspension, vaguely stating he needed “to get help.” Morant then checked into a counseling program in Florida, which he left after a couple of days.
While Irving faulted the media for passing judgement on Morant, the media has yet to press Morant on the Denver nightclub video, his recent pattern of firearm-related incidents, or the self-described need to work on his “overall well-being.” So far, Morant has only granted an interview to ESPN’s Jalen Rose, a conversation that was criticized as being soft. Morant, meanwhile, appears ready to move on from the incident without ever fully addressing it.
“I wish we can say we can control what the media says or we can control what other people say, but we can’t,” Irving continued. “So with Ja dealing with that, I think the initial shock was dealing with the public opinion.”