In the opinion of retired star Ray Allen, former Cleveland Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving’s sometimes-dicey relationship with the media and his teammates is due to Irving’s inconsistency in how he presents himself.
Allen spoke with CBS Sports on a number of different basketball topics and pointed out how Irving’s desire to be a team leader is often undercut by actions that call his credibility into question.
“Kyrie has had somewhat of a topsy-turvy relationship with the media and his teammates — what he decides to talk about and what he decides not to talk about,” Allen said. “In order to be a leader, you have to do the unpopular things, but the right things, and you can’t pick and choose when to do them. Once [Kyrie] does those things more consistently, that’s when people will respect his decisions.”
Some of Irving’s past behavior has resulted in speculation that’s negatively affected his image according to Allen, something that he feels could be avoided if Irving was less adversarial toward the media.
“Yes, he’s had issues before in his locker rooms,” Allen said. “So you have to follow what his history has been. Regardless of what it is that [Kyrie] was dealing with, he left you guys to speculate. … If you don’t speak to the media, they’re gonna write their own stories. So give them the time. Be professional. This is part of your job. Players today think the media is out to get them.
“Really, it makes everyone’s job so much easier when you have a cordial relationship with the media where everybody is exchanging information and you understand where a person is coming from. … If he’s just in his intentions, then he has nothing to worry about.”
Now in his second season with the Brooklyn Nets, Irving is part of a powerhouse starting lineup that now includes Kevin Durant and James Harden. With that level of talent, the Nets can be formidable contenders to win the NBA title.
That likelihood of winning it all is somewhat dependent on how motivated Irving is to capture a championship, something that was called into question last month when he briefly stepped away from the court.
Until Irving finally explained the circumstances of his absence, his image took a beating, something that might have been avoided if he had been upfront with the media in the first place.
As Cavs fans know, if Irving is locked in, he can be a key factor in leading the Nets to a title. The lasting memory of Irving’s clutch game-winner in Game 7 of the 2016 finals is the strongest example of that way of thinking.