The NBA is not on board with Kyrie Irving’s apparent plan to avoid talking to the media during the 2020-21 season.
Both the star point guard and the Brooklyn Nets were fined $25,000 for violating the league’s rules on media access. In a statement, the NBA said “The fines result from Irving’s refusal on several occasions this week to participate in the team media availability.”
As could be expected, Irving responded to the fine in an Instagram story:
Kyrie Irving speaks about his fine on Instagram, using a quote from Malcolm X:
“I’ve had enough of someone else’s propaganda. I’m for truth, no matter who tells it…” pic.twitter.com/TzzxeAgUJD
— Anthony Puccio (@APOOCH) December 11, 2020
“I pray we utilize the ‘fine money’ for the marginalized communities in need,” said Irving, “especially seeing where our world is presently.”
According to ESPN’s Bobby Marks, NBA players can only file a grievance when fines are over $50,000.
Upon reporting to training camp, Irving issued a statement making it clear that he didn’t intend to speak to the media this season “to ensure that my message is properly conveyed” and that his “goal this season is to let my work on and off the court speak for itself.”
As ESPN’s Malika Andrews explained, NBA rules mandate that healthy players be available to the media before or after practices and games. Additionally, players, coaches, and general managers for each team are required to establish one day at the beginning of training camp during which they speak to reporters.
This year, due to COVID-19 restrictions, those media sessions were conducted via video conferencing.
Irving is entering the second season of a four-year, $136 million contract he signed with the Nets. Brooklyn surely wants to see what its big free-agent push can yield with Irving and Kevin Durant set to play together this season.
Yet the volatile star is already becoming a distraction before the 2020-21 campaign even begins. And with Houston Rockets guard James Harden failing to report to training camp and reportedly telling his front office that he’d like to be traded to the Nets, is an Irving-for-Harden deal an ideal match? Their salaries don’t quite match up, so Brooklyn would probably have to include another player in a trade and probably some draft picks.
Maybe the possibility of going to Houston and joining John Wall in the Rockets’ backcourt is something Irving can talk about to the media the next time he’s available.