As brilliant and mesmerizing as he has been ever since he took the NBA floor, Kyrie Irving has been on the dark side of the sphere with his off-court etiquette.
Irving was suspended by the Brooklyn Nets for at least five games for promoting an antisemitic documentary film on Twitter. Irving initially refused to apologize for the act but has since apologized “to all Jewish families and communities” for his post.
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has met with Irving and believes Irving is not antisemitic. Nets owner Joe Tsai and his wife, Clara, have also met with their superstar. Tsai said it’s clear to him that Irving “does not have any beliefs of hate towards Jewish people or any group.”
Nets management said Irving also has to meet with Jewish community leaders before being allowed to play.
The consequences of Irving’s actions have resulted in missed games and losses for the Brooklyn Nets, which could’ve been avoided if the situation was handled well by Irving.
Here are two things that Irving mishandled:
(Proverbs 15:1) “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word turns away anger.”
A harsh word is literally a “word of pain” - a hurtful word. Words chosen wisely promote calm interactions rather than provoking anger - they instruct by example and encourage rather than discourage.*
(Ephesians 4:29) “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.”
Evil speech must be stopped, substituting them for what is good for building up and giving grace.
(Proverbs 25:15) “With patience, a ruler may be persuaded, and a soft tongue will break a bone.”
Diplomacy with superiors means using tact even while trying to persuade.*
No one naturally yields to a boss, owner, or coach. We all want to be kings of our own little universes. We all want to be making our own rules and go victim mode when we break them.
What better place to exercise than in a league where stars demand trades right after they are given extensions, demand coaches to get fired, or decide when to play and when not to?
The design for a hierarchy was created for harmony. Team owners, GMs, coaches, players, trainers, and utilities all play their roles to make the whole thing work. Irving has had a history of conflict with coaches, teammates, and even fans because of a lack of humility in understanding his rightful position.
“Let every person be subject to governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.” (Romans 13:1-2)
We all need to learn from this and I would hate to see Irving’s career spiral down because of his actions.
We all need humility to remind us that we are always one corner away from succumbing to the same kinds of mishandling in our own lives.
*Esv Study Bible, Lane Dennis, Wayne Grudem