During the 2017 All-Star Weekend, Kyrie Irving made headlines by challenging the theory that the world was round. It’s not necessarily that he believed the world was flat or that you could take a ship and fall off the end of the earth into outer space, but it was his way of challenging conventional theory.
Recently, Warriors guard Stephen Curry made a similar assertion by questioning whether man has landed on the moon, although there is clear video of American astronauts landing on what we were told was the moon in 1969. Curry was born in 1988 and whether he was joking or not, challenging conventional theory is becoming more of a trend among millennials and professional athletes.
Since his comments, NASA has reached out to Curry and offered to show him proof that man has indeed landed on the moon. But the bigger point here is an athlete’s right to challenge authority or what we’ve been told or what we have been led to believe as truth.
Irving considers himself a savant, a thinker who didn’t really believe the world was flat but suggested that perhaps we shouldn’t assume that all we’ve been taught is true because it is in books. Irving was asked about Curry’s comments and whether it’s offensive to him and other athletes that their intelligence is questioned when they question theory.
Irving didn’t hold back on his opinions.
“You’re more than just a basketball player that puts it in the hoop,” he said when asked about being an athlete who thinks outside the box. “And then they subject you to being just that. It’s a little unfair at times. Obviously we’re not as educated in terms of schooling as the knowledge of going to these universities. So I think probably that misjudgment is warranted, it’s natural, everyone feels like they have a place in this world to kind of question anything or question somebody.”
Irving said he believes anyone has the right to question common assumptions, especially if they research the topic. At an appearance at the Forbes Under-30 Summit at Emerson College in October, Irving apologized for causing such a stir about his “flat Earth” comments but not about encouraging open thinking about certain topics, and he chooses to focus on scientific issues. But he admonished forums such as Twitter for tabbing people experts or authorities while overshadowing those who may not have a million followers.
“Look at what social media has done nowadays, anybody can say anything on Twitter but one thing someone says with a check next to their name, it’s the biggest thing going,” he said.
“So nothing’s really original, it’s just history repeating itself all over again. There are people in history who say some things that they believe and they’ve stuck with it their whole entire lives, whether they be prominent individuals in society or not. I try to not pay attention to that mold at all. I try not to pay attention to whether it’s insulting or not. I don’t live my life based on biases or judgments, nor do I base it on judging someone for what they believe in as well.”
While Irving may take an unusually large number of words to say it, he encourages free thinking but believes no one should be browbeaten for their opinion, whether it be him or Curry.
“It’s society, it’s where we live in America, where people say [expletive] all the time about one another. It’s mean, bad, kids see it and everyone gets a piece of it,” he said.
“It’s the next story, the next thing that’s coming out someone’s mouth. There’s world hunger going on, there’s political things going on, there’s so many higher things in the totem pole in society that matter to human beings but, hey, Steph Curry says he doesn’t believe in the moon [landing], it’s the thing all over, it’s on CNN and they say we’re just jocks, we’re just athletes but it’s on your channel. We’re that but you don’t want us to be that.”
Irving said he is bothered by how people treat each other, especially on social media, but he understands the criticism and scrutiny that comes along with being an NBA player and understands there are downfalls to being part of the system that is designed to essentially make everyone involved wealthy.
“It’s basically what the NBA has been in professional sports. It’s been a hub. It’s been generated by media. It’s been generated by athletes. It’s been generated by the fans,” he said. “We’re all in collaboration with one another, trying to grow a business. We’re all trying to put money in our pockets. We’re all trying to make sure that we all look great in what we’re writing and what we’re doing, making sure we’re doing the best we can. I support that aspect of it.
“Anything that comes with it in terms of everyone’s emotions in dealing with human being stuff every single day and then coming to work and doing those things, I’m supportive of that as well. As long as it doesn’t spill into disrespecting anyone else. People are blatantly disrespectful now. Like to people’s faces and it’s ridiculous, like to treat another human being like that.
“And people do it behind the screen, people do it on their phones every single day and I think that it’s something to learn as human beings to learn how to treat and respect other people.
“Whether or not [Curry] believes it or not, NASA or a conspiracy or any history or anything like that, I come here to talk to you about basketball and if you ask me questions about things that matter about life, then I’ll gladly answer those as well but I’m fully supportive for just loving human beings, that’s it. It’s pretty simple.”
It may take a while to comprehend and understand Irving’s message, but there is passion and thought behind it. That has to be respected.