Stephen A. Smith: Kyrie Irving Is Not a Hero

Kyrie Irving
Kyrie Irving / Mark Brown/GettyImages

Kyrie Irving got his way today as New York City Mayor Eric Adams announced the private employer vaccine mandate would be altered so unvaccinated athletes and performers can work in NYC. Irving famously proclaimed he was refusing to get the vaccine because he wanted to stand up for the "voiceless" population who would get fired if they didn't get the jab. He will now presumably go back to work as those voiceless individuals continue to suffer the consequences of their actions.

The Brooklyn Nets are certainly glad about it all. So is Stephen A. Smith, which is somewhat surprising given the ESPN analyst's harsh comments about Irving's situation earlier this year. The bright lights of First Take shone on Smith today to get his reaction to the news that Irving would be doing just that, and Smith started off by talking about how excited he was for the electric point guard to take the floor again.

But Smith had more to say after that. He wanted to make it very clear that Irving is anything but a hero after outlasting the city's vaccine mandate.

"[Kyrie] is no hero. He is no heroine. He put himself above the team, which is entirely his right... But at the end of the day, that don't make him no damn hero. Because he's not. He was willing to leave the Brooklyn Nets hanging, if necessary. Willing to jeopardize their championship hopes, if necessary. Because of his individual, isolated choice at the expense of his entire organization. And if that's somebody's definition of a hero, I'll just say it damn well ain't mine."

Irving will undoubtedly be held up as a hero among the anti-vaccination crowd because he stood his ground. But nothing Smith said is wrong. This is a win for Irving. Not exactly hero material to affect change that benefits you and you alone.

We'll see if Irving has anything to say about all this when he's finally back in front of reporters at Barclays. I wouldn't count on it. He wasn't the voice for the voiceless he proclaimed himself to be over the six months. Why would he start now?