Craziest Things Kyrie Irving Said
Life can be unpredictable, but in the NBA, one thing has become expected: Kyrie Irving dropping quotes that defy explanation.
The six-time All-Star point guard was not always outspoken. During the early years of his career at Duke and with the Cleveland Cavaliers, he gave little insight into his actual personality.
That’s not a problem now. Conspiracy theories, ex-girlfriends, teammates, coaches new and old. Nothing and no one, it seems, are off limits to Irving and a microphone.
Here are the 25 craziest things Irving has ever said (that we know of).
25. 'I Plan on Re-Signing Here Next Year'
When: Oct. 4, 2018
Where: TD Garden, Boston
Why: Speaking at a Celtics’ event for season-ticket holders, Irving decided to send the 3,000 in attendance (and his teammates) into a frenzy by announcing he would sign a max contract with the team in 2019.
Bottom line: It's not hard to understand why this was such a crazy thing for Irving to say. But let’s just start with the fact that you really don’t want to play your entire hand almost a full year ahead of the biggest contract you’re probably ever going to sign.
Can you imagine what Irving’s agent (formerly Jeff Wechsler, soon to be Jay-Z's Roc Nation?) did when he heard those words come out of his star client’s mouth? Did he go full Ari Gold or just curl up in the fetal position?
Irving later admitted he was swept up in the "emotion" of the event and backtracked considerably.
24. 'Ask Me July 1'
When: Feb. 1, 2019
Where: Celtics practice facility, Waltham, Massachusetts
Why: Kyrie Irving returned from an injured hip to face the media with rumors swirling about his pending free agency and reports that he might not be so enamored with the Celtics as believed.
Bottom line: The reason Irving saying "ask me July 1" is so interesting is because just four months before, he’d assured Celtics fans that he was going to re-sign with the team as a free agent.
Well, in this episode of "As the (Flat) World Turns," we’ve got Irving doing an about-face when pressed on free agency by reporters and not seeming so excited about the Celtics.
How did he diffuse the situation? By telling the assembled group of reporters, "I don’t owe anybody (expletive)."
23. 'I Wish They’d Make a New "Grease" '
When: Aug. 2, 2012
Where: Cleveland, Ohio
Why: Kyrie Irving was doing a wide-ranging interview with NBA.com following his rookie season, and talk turned to his love of musicals, specifically classic films "Grease" and "West Side Story."
Bottom line: If you love movies at all — not just musicals — you’re going to fall on one side of this argument. Should classic films be remade? Or should we just leave well enough alone and not cannibalize films that were made perfectly fine the first time around?
"Fright Night"? "Total Recall"? "Point Break"? All classics. All remade. All terrible.
Irving’s reason for wanting to remake "Grease" was simple: "The graphics were terrible."
We can already see the online petition against this movie after Irving gets it green-lit and casts himself as Danny Zuko.
22. 'I Won’t Question My Teammates in Public Again'
When: Jan. 14, 2019
Where: Celtics practice facility, Waltham, Massachusetts
Why: Kyrie Irving had to defend his comments following a 105-103 loss to the Orlando Magic on Jan. 12.
Bottom line: Irving decided to throw his teammates under the bus after a loss, focusing most of his ire on the "young guys" on the team, who he said didn’t understand what it took to win a championship.
Anyone who followed the Celtics since Irving joined the team knew that there was no way he could not "question his teammates in public."
Think about it this way. Irving threw LeBron James, one of the greatest basketball players in history, under the bus. You think these dudes were gonna get spared?
21. 'Now I Gotta Adjust My Game to This Guy'
When: Jan. 16, 2019
Where: TD Garden, Boston
Why: Kyrie Irving admitted to the media after a Celtics win over the Toronto Raptors that he apologized to LeBron James for his selfish, immature attitude while they played together in Cleveland.
Bottom line: Irving reached out to his former teammate LeBron James seeking advice about his leadership struggles in Boston, and Irving told reporters a little bit about the private conversation, acknowledging he was not the best understudy to James on the Cavaliers.
Irving recalled that he didn't want James to return to play in Cleveland in 2014 because Irving, who was 22 at the time, didn’t want to share the spotlight and adjust anything he was doing on the court to what James could do.
Essentially, Irving didn’t want to play with James in his prime. Which is crazy.
20. 'That's No. 23's Job'
When: February 2017
Where: Cavaliers practice facility, Independence, Ohio
Why: In an article for ESPN, writer Jackie MacMullan relayed an exchange between Cavaliers coach Ty Lue and star point guard Kyrie Irving.
Bottom line: Lue implored Irving to play faster. Specifically, he wanted him to bring the ball up the court faster so the team could get more shots off.
Irving was confused because, as he pointed out, he could get his shot off whenever he wanted. Lue clarified — shots for teammates, not him.
Irving, the point guard, petulantly replied that was forward LeBron James' job, not his, further giving evidence to the idea that Irving bristled at James taking over point-forward duties whenever he wanted in games.
19. 'One of Those Generational Leaders'
When: June 17, 2018
Where: Barker Hangar, Santa Monica, California
Why: Kyrie Irving was doing a red carpet interview at the 2018 MTV Movie and TV Awards when he was asked about his relationship with ex-girlfriend Kehlani, a well-known R&B singer.
Bottom line: You can count on Irving doing nice things for other people. And when the conversation turns to those nice things he did, count on him saying something bizarre.
In this case, the nice thing was an act of chivalry in 2016 — going on social media to clarify he and Kehlani had broken up by the time pictures were posted of her with rapper PartyNextDoor, after fans lashed out at her, accusing her of cheating on Irving.
Somehow, Irving turned the conversation into him being a "generational leader," which is a long, strange trip from the initial question.
18. 'I See Your Energy. I Feel It. I Know It.'
When: Nov. 21, 2017
Where: Boston Center for Youth & Families
Why: Kyrie Irving was making a pre-Thanksgiving appearance at a dinner for 15 families in Boston.
Bottom line: For some reason, Irving is incapable of making things about other people, even when he’s doing nice things for other people. It always, somehow, finds a way back to him when he’s doing the talking.
Or, in this case, Irving’s chakra, as he told the assembled families (presumably all Celtics fans) about his "truth" and its connection to them.
The important thing is his presence is making people happy. Even if he’s bloviating, he’s doing a good deed. Which is cool.
17. 'My Intellect … Everything I’m Awake To'
When: Nov. 26, 2017
Why: Kyrie Irving was doing interviews ahead of a hotly anticipated home game between his Boston Celtics and the visiting Golden State Warriors when a reporter asked him about his physical health.
Bottom line: Irving seems like a pretty smart guy. No one thinks he’s dumb, at least. The thing is, he really wants us to know how smart he is. How do we know this? Because he spends a lot of time talking about how smart he is.
What’s crazy here is that the question was in reference to his health, and Irving brought it back to his intellect.
How many times can one man call himself an intellectual? We’re finding out.
16. 'It Would Be Nice If We Had a 15-Year, 14-Year Vet'
When: Nov. 11, 2018
Where: Moda Center, Portland, Oregon
Why: Kyrie Irving was talking to reporters after a road loss to the Portland Trailblazers that capped a 1-4 road trip for the Boston Celtics.
Bottom line: Irving, in his eighth season in the NBA and final year of a five-year, $94.5 million contract, openly wished there were more veteran players in the Celtics' locker room after the team got off to a horrendous start to the season. With him as the team’s leader.
While the Celtics’ most experienced player, Al Horford, was in his 12th season, it’s not totally clear why Irving thinks that 14 or 15 years is the magic number for a vet to smoothly guide a team through the regular season.
This is when we point out that Irving’s last year playing with LeBron James in Cleveland (the 2016-17 season) was LeBron’s 14th year in the NBA.
15. 'Like Every Other Team Does in This League'
When: March 24, 2019
Where: Spectrum Center, Charlotte, North Carolina
Why: Kyrie Irving was asked about his team’s game plan after the Celtics blew an 18-point lead to the Hornets in the second half and were torched for 36 points by Kemba Walker.
Bottom line: Walker is one of the NBA’s most underrated guards and can hurt teams in a lot of different ways. When Irving says Walker "torches [the Celtics] every time we play," he’s not wrong. It’s fair. Because Walker averages over 30 points per game against Boston.
What Irving said next was cringeworthy, ripping Boston coach Brad Stevens for not trapping Walker every time he touched the ball.
We get that you think you know more than the coach. We really do. For the sake of the team, maybe, keep it to yourself next time?
14. 'Why Would I Have To?'
When: Sept. 18, 2017
Where: ESPN Studios, New York
Why: Kyrie Irving decided to go on ESPN’s popular "First Take" morning show to discuss his recent trade from the Cleveland Cavaliers to the Boston Celtics and was grilled by hosts Stephen A. Smith and Max Kellerman about asking for the trade.
Bottom line: The quote that made people really wonder what was on Irving's mind came in response to a line of questioning from Smith about whether Irving had communicated with LeBron James about asking for the trade after going to three consecutive NBA Finals together.
Irving already had thrown shade at James during his introductory news conference with the Celtics and doubled down here, saying he didn’t care if James took the slight personally and didn’t understand why talking to him first might have been beneficial.
Why poke that beast?
13. 'I Helped Coach Stevens With Some Coaching'
When: March 29, 2019
Where: Staples Center, Los Angeles
Why: Following the Boston Celtics' road win over the Los Angeles Lakers, ESPN’s Lisa Salter asked Kyrie Irving about the team’s "bonding" on a recent cross-country flight.
Bottom line: Boston’s Al Horford doled out some genuine praise to Irving about how he acted on the flight as far as initiating card games and conversations with teammates.
Irving, who just scored 30 points against the Lakers, took a question about what Horford referred to as an opportunity to give himself even more credit for the team playing well instead of shooting the praise right back.
Irving said he spent part of the flight "helping Brad" figure out how to coach. That’s Boston Celtics head coach Brad Stevens, who led Butler University to two Final Fours and is considered one of the NBA’s best coaches.
12. 'Is the Internet Real for You in Your Life?'
When: Feb. 20, 2019
Where: Celtics practice facility, Boston
Why: Back to practice after the All-Star break, Kyrie Irving found himself answering questions about a video of him and Kevin Durant talking in a hallway during All-Star Weekend.
Bottom line: Irving, to put it lightly, did not respond well to this line of questioning because internet conspiracy theorists thought the two were definitely having a conversation about free agency and possibly playing together.
Things devolved quickly, with Irving repeatedly asking "who?" is talking about the video. When a reporter responds with "the internet," we unknowingly stepped into Irving’s wheelhouse.
Time to expand your mind.
11. 'It Connected Me More to Nikola Tesla'
When: Jan. 12, 2018
Where: Undisclosed location (probably Los Angeles)
Why: Kyrie Irving was making an appearance on J.J. Redick’s podcast, and the two got into the weeds a bit about conspiracy theories.
Bottom line: How, exactly, did Irving get to the point where he was talking about being spiritually connected to Nikola Tesla, a legendary inventor?
Redick kicked things off by saying he doesn’t really believe in dinosaurs. Then, he asked Irving if he’s into conspiracy theories. Of course he is. And his knowledge has been gleaned mostly from YouTube videos.
Irving expanded on this, saying through meditation he’s become more connected to historical figures (geniuses, mainly) who were vastly misunderstood. Like Tesla.
10. 'The Age of No More Secrets Is Upon Us'
When: June 2, 2019
Where: Kyrie Irving’s Instagram account (@kyrieirving)
Why: This quote was part of a longer Instagram post from Irving’s official account (presumably run by him) that seems to touch on some new-age theories.
Bottom line: While this moment isn’t the first time Irving has expanded on his thought process, it’s probably the most non-sequitur because it jumps from the mysterious "No More Secrets" reference to something about world peace and genuine love and energy spreading all over the world.
Those last two things sound great. But then he gets back to some other cryptic stuff.
See for yourself:
"Hermetic Friends, Inc. My light Brothers and Sisters! The age of No More Secrets is upon us. World Peace will be achieved in our life time and we better Effin believe it! Let them have the fabricated bull****. That genuine love and energy spreads all over the world. Eye see all. I AM"
9. 'I’m That Great of a Shooter'
When: May 6, 2019
Where: TD Garden, Boston
Why: After the Celtics went down 3-1 to the Milwaukee Bucks in the NBA playoffs, Kyrie Irving faced an onslaught of questions about his poor play — mainly going 7-of-22 shooting at home in the Game 4 loss.
Bottom line: Irving got things off to a rousing start with the first two words out of his mouth after being asked about shooting so poorly in the game, and the series as a whole: "Who cares?"
Then, staying true to form, he said he should’ve taken 30 shots instead of 22. And capped it off with the coup-de-grace quote about what a great shooter he is.
Milwaukee closed out the series in the next game, with Irving going 6 of 22 from the floor.
8. 'Steak Doesn't Come From Anything Natural'
When: Nov. 15, 2017
Where: Philips Arena, Atlanta
Why: Kyrie Irving was doing an interview with Bleacher Report’s Tom Haberstroh for an article about Irving's new vegan diet, when he was asked about team dinners that traditionally go down at steakhouses.
Bottom line: There’s a lot of room to interpret what Irving says after claiming he doesn’t eat steak anymore. It comes down to where you fall on the spectrum of what chemicals go into steaks before they hit your dinner table.
But that’s a pretty broad brush to paint steak with, especially when you consider that the higher grade steaks are going to be even more expensive and even more natural than what you might get at a roadside diner, for instance.
And it also ignores the fact that steaks do, in fact, come from cows. Which are natural.
7. 'I'm an Actual Genius When It Comes to This Game'
When: April 30, 2019
Where: Fiserv Forum, Milwaukee, Wisc.
Why: ESPN reporter Jackie MacMullan was interviewing Kyrie Irving after his nine-point performance in a Game 2 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks in the 2019 NBA playoffs.
Bottom line: When you pontificate for too long, which Irving is known to do, you can say some crazy things, which he’s also known to do. We’re not even saying that Irving isn’t a basketball genius. He very well might be.
He’s only at about the midway point (or less) in his career, and the flashes of genius are definitely there. But let’s go one step further and also point out that nobody who has ever self-glossed as a "genius" in anything has ever come off looking good.
People don’t like that for some reason.
6. 'F--- Thanksgiving'
When: Nov. 22, 2018
Where: TD Garden, Boston
Why: Kyrie Irving was finishing up interviews following a loss to the Knicks when a reporter wished him a Happy Thanksgiving and got a fiery response.
Bottom line: Irving regretted this one, but we’ll come to his defense a little bit. He’s part Native American on his mother’s side, and you don’t need much of a history lesson to understand why Native Americans might not be big fans of Thanksgiving.
But, as always, it’s not always the message with Irving so much as the delivery. And he fumbled this one.
"Meant no disrespect to the holiday and those who celebrate it respectfully," Irving later tweeted. "I’m grateful for the time we all can share with our families."
5. 'I Don’t Think of Christmas as a Holiday'
When: Dec. 21, 2017
Where: Madison Square Garden, New York
Why: Kyrie Irving was doing postgame interviews following a 103-92 loss to the New York Knicks when he was asked by a reporter how he felt about playing on Christmas day, which the Celtics were scheduled to do that year.
Bottom line: Hey, we know Christmas isn’t for everybody. For one reason or another, some people just aren’t down with Jolly Ol’ Saint Nick. But let’s give our guy the benefit of the doubt and try to think of why Irving might not like this particular holiday.
The best guess is because he’s had to work almost every Christmas since being picked No. 1 overall in the 2011 NBA draft. That’s one of the perils of being a highly paid NBA superstar making millions of dollars.
On the flip side, Irving did follow up by saying he did enjoy opening Christmas presents.
4. 'There Is Not One Real Picture of Earth'
When: Oct. 27, 2017
Where: University of Connecticut, Storrs, Connecticut
Why: Kyrie Irving was a guest on the first episode of UConn women’s basketball coach Geno Auriemma’s podcast, "Holding Court," when Auriemma began questioning Irving’s "flat earth" theories (more on that soon).
Bottom line: Let’s just marinate on this one for a second. Question everything you think you know about seeing pictures and videos of Earth from outer space, dating back to the first picture taken in 1946 from a rocket launched from the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico.
Did you ever think one of them was fake? Did you ever think maybe you were being sold a fake bill of goods by every history and science teacher you ever had, your entire life?
Neither do most people.
3. 'It Proved What I Thought It Would'
When: Sept. 26, 2017
Why: Kyrie Irving was making an appearance on "The Toucher and Rich Show," a Boston-based sports talk radio program, when his long-criticized flat earth comments came up.
Bottom line: Irving took this time as an opportunity to double down on his public stance that the Earth is flat, claiming the whole thing was part of a larger social experiment he was conducting. On who, it’s not clear. The media? Middle school science teachers?
He didn’t like people questioning his intellect or the criticism, so now the joke is on everyone else?
"When I do something, I always know my intent," Irving said. "It proved what I thought it would." Which comes off as smug.
2. 'Ball Movement'
When: Oct. 11, 2017
Where: ESPN Studios, New York
Why: Kyrie Irving was calling in on ESPN Radio’s "Jalen & Jacoby" show, co-hosted by former NBA star Jalen Rose, when Rose asked him what the difference was between his old team, Cleveland, and his new team, Boston.
Bottom line: Irving may not look at rosters or stats much. And if he doesn’t, maybe he really does think "ball movement" was the big difference between the two teams.
But if he did look at rosters, he would’ve seen that he was listed as the Cavaliers' and Celtics' point guard. Which is traditionally the position most responsible for a team’s "ball movement."
And if he looked at the Cavs' stats, he would’ve seen that in the 2016-17 season, his last season in Cleveland, he led the team in, wait for it, shot attempts.
1. 'The Earth Is Flat'
When: Feb. 17, 2017
Where: Cleveland Cavaliers team plane
Why: Kyrie Irving was making an appearnace on the popular "Road Trippin'" podcast hosted by then-Cavs teammates Richard Jefferson and Channing Tatum. Jefferson began talking about the existence of aliens. Then, Irving broke in with his most infamous take.
Bottom line: Nobody — nobody — is saying that it’s bad that Irving likes to question commonly held beliefs. But saying the Earth is flat instead of round, and essentially questioning the laws of gravity and what we know about the solar system was a bridge too far for almost everyone in America.
Irving’s comments touched off a round of national debate, not on whether there was any validity to what Irving said, but to how out of touch superstar athletes had become.
There also were some questions, from fair to brutal, about whether Irving, who likes to remind people of his vast intellect, was really as smart as he thought he was.