Kyrie Irving, a name synonymous with controversy in the NBA, once again stirred the pot. This time, he’s challenging the very notion of his national identity, despite having represented Team USA in the Olympics.
Born to American parents in Australia, Irving spent his early years in Melbourne while his father, Drederick Irving, played for the Bulleen Boomers in the semi-professional South East Australian Basketball League.
However, when Irving was just two years old, the family relocated back to the United States. Despite this, Irving recently claimed in a Twitch interview that he identifies as an “international player,” not an American.
— EuroRumor (@EurorumoR) August 22, 2023
This statement has raised eyebrows, especially considering his history with Team USA. Irving revealed, “I wanted to play for Australia, but it just didn’t happen. Coach K wasn’t going to let that happen either.”
The ‘Coach K’ he referred to is Mike Krzyzewski, who coached Team USA in 2014 and 2016 when Irving was part of the team. According to Irving, Krzyzewski played a significant role in his decision to represent the U.S., convincing him of the opportunity to be part of something bigger than himself.
Irving’s career has been marked by more than just questions of nationality. In 2021, he made headlines for his staunch refusal to take any of the coronavirus vaccines, a decision that cost him millions in earnings and led to his suspension.
He stated, “I gave up four years, 100-and-something million deciding to be unvaccinated, and that was the decision.”
Despite having won gold medals at both #FIBAWC and Olympic Games with Team USA, Kyrie Irving revealed he wanted to play for Australia 🇦🇺
"I wanted to play for Australia, but it just didn’t happen. Coach K wasn’t going to let that happen either", he said:https://t.co/4lxAgbNKqm
— Eurohoops (@Eurohoopsnet) August 22, 2023
His defiance didn’t stop there. Irving faced backlash from his team, the Brooklyn Nets, after promoting a film produced by a radical black group on his social media.
Despite pressure from the Nets to apologize and publicly deny being anti-Semitic, Irving stood his ground. His refusal resulted in a suspension and the loss of several endorsements, including one from Nike.
Interestingly, Irving has expressed a desire to play for Team Australia. However, Australia’s strict COVID-19 vaccination policies would have prevented him from even entering the country during the peak of the pandemic, let alone playing basketball there, due to his unvaccinated status.
Despite his controversial decisions and statements, Irving remains a standout player in the NBA. However, his future in the league seems uncertain. His actions made him a pariah to some, but to others, he is a hero standing up for personal freedom.