Stephen A. Smith: 'When Russia Bombed Ukraine I Thought Kyrie Irving Wasn't Going to Show Up For Work'
Kyrie Irving has not proven himself to be a reliable employee or teammate over the last couple years. It's something ESPN's Stephen A. Smith has been hammering the last few days as Irving's season is creeping towards its close. On Sunday he called Irving a "professional at missing work." On First Take this morning he said he wondered if Irving would show up to work when Russia began the war in Ukraine.
This is not an outrageous thing to think. In 2020, when the NBA suspended its season because of the pandemic, Irving, who was already out for the season with an injury, tried to convince other players that they should not restart the season. Via ESPN:
On a call that included nearly 100 players and several stars on Friday night, Irving made an impassioned plea for players to make a stand and sit out the season's resumption in Orlando, sources said.
On the same call Kyrie was also concerned about whether he'd actually be able to attend the Disney Bubble (he was not) and what kinds of products and beverages would be available to players.
Last season Irving walked away from the Nets, citing personal reasons, in the wake of the Attack on the US Capitol. He was gone for nearly two full weeks while we wondered if he would ever return.
He followed that up this season by abandoning his team for more than half the season rather than get vaccinated. He appeared in just 29 games during the regular season. The idea that something as high-profile as the war in Ukraine would give him pause before he played basketball again isn't out of the question.