What is “real news” right now? Everyone is asking the question for reasons that have nothing to do with basketball. Kyrie Irving said the earth was flat. He then tried to frame this was a broader commentary on news media priorities.
“I mean, it was just like, a point,” he said. “Like, the fact that that could actually be real news. Like, [with] everything that’s going on, that Kyrie Irving thinks the world is flat? So, I mean, we can ask, like, relevant questions about what’s going on in the world — like, what’s really going on. You know what I’m saying? Or what I really believe. Or who I really am. That’d be nice. But the fact that that’s what everyone got out of the podcast, that’s hilarious to me.”
Irving lamented the “social phenomenon” where he says something silly, and it blows up to become a major news story.
“There’s just so many real things going on, things that are going on that’s changing the shape of our lives,” Irving said. “I think sometimes it gets skewed because of who we are in the basketball world. ‘Oh man, what does he actually think? I don’t like Kyrie Irving because he thinks that the world is flat, or he thinks that the world can’t be wrong.’
“I know the science … The fact that that can be real news and people are actually asking me that. It’s a social phenomenon, what do you think about it? Are you going to try and protect your image? No, it doesn’t matter.”
The NBA player media critique is pretty clear. They don’t like the media scouring their comments for the most inflammatory sound bite, presenting it out of context, blowing it out of proportion, and using it as a jumping off point for all manner of speculation. That criticism is not unfair. One could conceive of Irving’s comments as a troll to set that series of events in motion over something stupid.
That said, there is nothing more myopic and absurd than a famous NBA player who uses the size of his enhanced mouthpiece to make millions shilling for Pepsi and for Nike lamenting that people pay attention when he says something colossally dumb at a major media event. Especially when getting people talking about him during a major marketing campaign may have been the entire point.
A trivial celebrity spouting unhinged, uninformed, and inflammatory opinions, spreading absolute falsehoods, and buttressing baseless conspiracy theories is no longer something the media can safely dismiss.