Kyrie Irving's maskless video has Stephen A. Smith calling for his retirement.
The NBA was among the few sports leagues, and overall institutions in the United States, that managed to coronavirus pandemic as they continued their 2019-2020 season. The Bubble in Florida became a hub for the NBA, providing fans with entertainment as they were locked down. Of course, this meant that the players themselves were forced to follow strict guidelines that wouldn't allow them to do much outside of doing their jobs.
The 2020-2021 hasn't followed the same regulations as the previous season and it's evidently taking a hit on the NBA. A video of Brooklyn Nets' Kyrie Irving at a family gathering without a mask went viral, prompting the NBA to start an investigation into the matter. Stephen A. Smith went as far as saying the Nets star should retire.
"He’s not worth [the drama] at all. Matter of fact, let me say this straight up and down: I think Kyrie Irving should retire," he said on ESPN's First Take. "I think he should announce his retirement today. Clearly, you don't want to play basketball enough. Now, you still might want to get the $33.4M. Obviously, devoid of some of the docked pay you’ll receive because you haven’t complied with safety protocol measures and as a result, the league is going to determine when you come back instead of yourself, for taking personal leave and obviously forfeiting game checks or whatever the case may be."
Jason Miller/Getty Images
He added, "Kyrie Irving has not prioritized basketball, but I’m not saying he doesn’t want to play all together. I’m saying he hasn’t prioritized it, and how fair was that to Brooklyn Nets?"
Even with the criticism about the amount of money he'd take away at the end of the season if he didn't play, Smith commended him for his philanthropic work and the things he's done in the community. However, it seems that Smith's concern for Irving's commitment to the game and the league is what's upsetting him, especially when it boils down to public safety. Sources close to the Nets say that the team doesn't expect Irving to rejoin the team for at least three games. "Clearly, [he's] trying to address some of the concerns that are ailing our society and our community," he continued. "Here's the problem that I have: he acts like he can't chew gum and walk at the same time. You can do that after you've fulfilled your duties or in the midst of fulfilling your duties."
Check out the full clip below.