Kyrie Irving, who was just named an All-Star starter for the
Eastern Conference, shocked the NBA world this week when he
reportedly asked for a trade. He informed the Nets that he prefers
to be traded ahead of the Feb. 9 deadline or he will plan to leave
via free agency in July, causing Brooklyn to lose him for
This trade demand was reportedly prompted by the fact that the
two sides were unable to agree to the terms of a contract
The Nets reportedly offered an extension to Irving; however, it
included unprecedented “guarantee stipulations” tied to the team
winning an NBA championship, according to Chris Haynes of Bleacher Report.
This appeared to offend Irving and his camp, thus resulting in the
This trade demand has been met with much criticism throughout
the entire NBA world.
While discussing Irving’s trade request with Malika Andrews on
NBA Today, Stephen A. Smith called Kyrie “idiotic”
and added that “he cannot be trusted; he just reminded the
basketball world of that.”
“This is Kyrie Irving, a guy that you cannot trust,” Perkins
said. “Didn’t Kyrie Irving just say that Kevin Durant was his best
friend? Right? So where is the loyalty? Right? If that’s your best
friend, I don’t want that. Give me an enemy. For the simple fact
that when you look at how Kevin Durant has been riding for Kyrie
Irving since they arrived in Brooklyn… standing behind him through
whatever his beliefs were, whatever he was doing, riding with him
over James Harden.”
I caught up with Caleb from Brooklyn
Netcast, a site dedicated to covering the Nets, to
discuss this situation, how the Nets handled this, the media
backlash toward Kyrie and much more.
Etan Thomas: I appreciate your content. I was
one of the former players who retweeted your tweets after this
story broke. You all do a great job of covering the Nets. To your
knowledge, can you explain what exactly led to this trade request
from Kyrie irving?
Brooklyn Netcast: I think it’s more of a
leverage move than anything. Mostly what led up to it were
disagreements in the contract extension and certain details not
being agreed upon as well as guaranteed money being a big issue in
this whole thing. Chris Haynes reported yesterday about how there
was a championship stipulation — like if you win a championship,
then you receive X amount of dollars — and that’s really where the
disagreements and feeling of disrespect came. I definitely don’t
think there is a shared respect overall between Joe Tsai and Kyrie
Irving and [there are] ethical disagreements, which is another huge
issue that is being glossed over, as a point of contention between
Etan: A few months ago, Joe Tsai and Kyrie
Irving had the sit down and Tsai came out publicly and said, “No,
Kyrie is not anti-semetic, he’s not a horrible person, etc.” But do
you think there was still friction between the two behind closed
doors and that statement was mostly for show?
Brooklyn Netcast: There is definitely quite a
bit of friction behind the scenes. I would say that it’s a bit for
show. I do believe that Joe Tsai and Adam Silver were both 100%
correct when they said that Kyrie was not anti-semitic, but there
is definitely a lot of friction that still exists between the two
as far as values, who they are as people and, of course, the
Etan: It was reported that the Nets wanted
Irving’s contract to be tied to winning a championship, and I don’t
know if I’ve ever really heard a stipulation like that before in an
NBA contract. So, he will only get X amount of money if they win a
championship? To my knowledge, that’s really unprecedented.
Brooklyn Netcast: I haven’t seen any specifics,
but just seen reports that this was a point of contention for Kyrie
and his team. There are leaks coming from both sides and it’s hard
to see the exact details of what exactly was disagreed upon because
there are so many different leaks and takes. But it is clear that
it does center around guaranteed money and that a championship
would bring a substantial amount of money into the picture, and
that’s not something that Kyrie or his representatives feel is fair
because a championship is a team achievement. Hypothetically, Kyrie
could average 40, 5 and 5, but if they lose in the playoffs, then
he wouldn’t receive whatever amount of his contract? I don’t see
how any player would agree to something like that.
Etan: One of the tweets that I retweeted from
Brooklyn Netcast, and again you all have done a great job in
covering this, was: “The annoying part too is the media is just
gonna paint Kyrie Irving as the bad guy here while Marks and Tsai
don’t get trashed at all.” And that’s exactly what happened.
Brooklyn Netcast: It’s important to note that
Kyrie has had some things happen off the court in the past; you can
go into the whole documentary thing and missing time throughout the
years, so there is already a lot stacked against him and who he is.
I think it’s abundantly clear right now that Kyrie Irving is a very
good person, and a charitable and giving human being, but for some
reason the media as a whole consistently ridicules and demonizes
Kyrie. But they don’t even loosely examine or question the
character of someone like Joe Tsai. They would rather attack
Kyrie’s character, but that shows the bias of many in the
And the media only tells one side of the story. They focused on,
“Oh, Kyrie requested a trade,” or, “Kyrie wants out,” or, “Kyrie is
abandoning KD,” or, “He said he would never leave his friend,” and
they frame it as if it’s all Kyrie’s fault. But they won’t go into
the details of the insulting championship stipulation the Nets put
in the contract.
Etan: Stephen A. Smith jumped out and his
response to Kyrie requesting a trade was that he is “idiotic” and
“cannot be trusted” and that he “reminded the entire basketball
world of that.” I responded:
No Stephen A Smith smh
It’s simple, if you feel you’re not being paid what you’re worth at
your current place of employment or you’re being disrespected, it’s
time to move on. Just like when you voiced that ESPN wasn’t
compensating you properly. It’s not “idiotic” just business
And that’s how I look at this situation. It’s just business.
It’s not Kyrie being a “diva,” which many have called him, or him
being “idiotic.” They didn’t want to give him the number that he
felt he had earned as an All-Star, and they added stipulations that
he wasn’t happy with such as the championship stipulation — which,
again, I don’t recall ever being done in the NBA — so he wanted to
look for other options. But the media, people like Stephen A. Smith
for example, immediately went to bashing Kyrie before they even
knew the details.
Brooklyn Netcast: I agree with everything you
just said. I wasn’t surprised to hear Stephen A. Smith and Kendrick
Perkins and so many others in the media jump to bash Kyrie. I know
Stephen A. says that he is a fan of Kyrie’s, but there has been a
consistent bashing of Kyrie that he does and it seems almost
personal and definitely unprofessional. This summer, Kendrick
Perkins said he would not bash Kyrie as long as he was in the
media, and he went back on his word is less than a few months. Dave
Portnoy, who is a member of the media, tweeted: “You can make a legit
argument Kyrie is the worst pro athlete who ever lived and top 100
Etan: Lou Williams responded, “Nah, we don’t
agree with you,” and I retweeted that.
Brooklyn Netcast: Right! I saw that, and I’m glad Lou
Williams did that. That was really a disgusting tweet. Requesting a
trade because of a contract dispute makes you the worst human being
to ever walk the planet? And the amount of people who agreed with
his asinine statement is just crazy. But yeah, that shows how Kyrie
has been consistently painted as this horrible person by the media,
and that’s just irresponsible.
What are you hearing about the Brooklyn Nets and how they view
Kyrie? I’m sure some of the fans are split — some love Kyrie and
some hate Kyrie, some are swayed by the media and some see through
how the media portrays him — but what are you hearing from the team
as far as their reaction to this? And I ask because I noticed that
after the recent suspension, it seemed as though the team supported
him — or at least didn’t publicly bash him. I saw people in the
media trying to almost coerce the players into ridiculing him. I
saw them try to get Nic Claxton to say they were better off without
Kyrie, and they tried to get KD to express frustration with Kyrie.
It was like they went down the list, but none of them took the
bait. Where do you think they are with Kyrie and if he were to come
back — say they don’t trade him —would they welcome him back with
Brooklyn Netcast: That’s tough to say. I feel like it
would vary from player to player. I’m sure they understand the
business aspect of this all and they don’t look at this as a
personal abandonment of the team or anything like that. I do think
they are all well aware that their chances of being successful
greatly diminish if Kyrie is not on the floor. But at the same
time, from what I’m hearing, or at least what they are expressing
publicly, is that they understand that this is a business. But they
know at the same time, they need him to be successful.
want you to expound on the media coverage of Kyrie. And of course
not all media are covering him the same way, but I will say that
there are quite a few in the media who are really taking turns
bashing him. Do you feel that it’s a little bit unfair or
unwarranted or unprofessional? (Besides Stephen A. Smith; in his
case, it definitely does appear to be just that). How would you
describe the majority of the media’s coverage of Irving?
Brooklyn Netcast: I think that a lot of it is personal
and a lot of it is a collection of how they feel about past events,
and that taints how they examine this current event. They aren’t
separating the two. For example, when James Harden asked for a
trade, he didn’t get bashed as heavily, and his was more of a
giving up on the team. He had gained weight, was playing very bad
basketball at the time and reportedly never wanted to be in
Brooklyn in the first place as his first choice. Kyrie’s request
was definitely covered differently, and he has a valid financial
reason to want out, in my opinion at least. And there have been
other players who were just disgruntled or just unhappy with the
system or not [getting] enough shots or playing time who asked for
a trade, and they weren’t bashed anywhere near as much as Kyrie.
But like I said, a lot of that has to do with past situations that
many people are lumping in with this situation, and one has nothing
to do with the other. I’m hoping the media, later on after he has
retired, will look back and say, “You know what, this was unfair
treatment of a player and we viewed him incorrectly.”
Yeah… I would say don’t hold your breath on Stephen A. Smith or
Charles Barkley ever coming to that realization.”
Brooklyn Netcast: Oh, well not those two (laughing).
ok (laughing), you just mean the media as a whole.
Brooklyn Netcast: Yeah, just collectively. But no, those
two are probably not going to come to any realization.
couldn’t agree more. There is nothing wrong with having a
professional critique of an athlete. I have no problem with that.
But often, Stephen A. Smith’s comments about Kyrie Irving are
nothing more than personal attacks and attempts to disparage his
character. He lobbies for him not to be signed to a long-term deal
and puts notions out there that he can’t be trusted. It comes
across as a personal vendetta instead of a professional critique.
And although my friend David Aldridge didn’t agree with me when I
debated him and Marc Spears about the impact of what the media
says, it’s been confirmed to be true.
What the media says does affect the business side for players
when it’s time for teams, GMs, presidents, etc. to sign them —
whether those notions are accurate or not. It’s not about “hurting
a player’s feelings.” It’s about having a direct impact on their
professional career. I actually interviewed a former NBA GM, Pete
Babcock, who confirmed that false narratives put out by
the media and Stephen A. Smith, in particular, did in fact hurt
Kwame Brown financially. He discussed how NBA executives were, in
fact, influenced by those narratives.
But thanks again for your content and covering this in a way
that is different than many others in the media. This was a good