Who would you rather have on your team:
Player A) 27.4 PPG, 6.4 APG, 5.2 RPG, 6x All-Star, nine-year veteran, three different teams, called the media “pawns.”
Player B) 30.0 PPG, 8.0 APG, 4.3 RPG, 5x All-Star, eight-year veteran, one franchise his whole career, beloved by his city and respects the media.
Let us clarify. Player A is Brooklyn Nets point guard Kyrie Irving. Player B is Portland Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard.
Let’s start with Irving.
On Friday - the first day of the 2020-2021 preseason play - Irving was fined $25,000 by the NBA for failure to comply with the league's media rules. Apparently Irving refused to talk to the media during the Nets’ training camp this week
Then, Irving posted to his personal Instagram story the following message calling the media “pawns”:
Not a good look at all for the 28-year-old, nine-year veteran playing for this third NBA franchise of his career. The NBA requires that healthy players be made available to reporters before or after games and practices.
He should know that.
Someone who does know that and is always consistently respectful to the media is Lillard.
The Blazers point guard is open, candid and truthful. He doesn't blow through availabilities. Lillard understands the symbiotic relationship between the himself and the media.
In 2017, Lillard was awarded the Professional Writers Association’s Magic Johnson Award which honors the player who best combines excellence on the basketball court with cooperation and dignity in dealing with the media and the public.
Will Irving be the recipient of this award at the end of the season? He’s off to a poor start. He could really learn some lessons from Lillard, both on and off the court.
When in doubt, just do it the Marshawn Lynch way: