But he has become a more and more polarizing figure off the court, especially due to some of the comments he has made on non-basketball topics.
NBA Hall of Famer Charles Barkley had a big bone to pick with the New Jersey native while on “Keyshawn, JWill and Zubin.”
“And when he talks I’m like, ‘What the hell is he trying…what is he saying and what is he trying to say?’” said Barkley. “He starts talking about what an artist is. He’s a basketball player. That’s what he is. Listen, we’re not…we’re not frontline responders. We’re not teachers. Yo man, you dribble a basketball, stop acting like you’re the smartest person in the world.
“Now can you talk about social issues and things like that? Of course. But some of this other stuff I’m like, ‘Yo man, you do realize you’re just a basketball player, right?’ And it seems like he’s like, ‘No I want you guys to realize I’m the smartest guy in the room.’ Well first of all, you’re not. You only went to college for six months. A lot of guys are smarter than you are. Just answer stupid basketball questions. And if you want to say something about social justice, say it and mean it, because it’s important and significant. But all that other stuff? Like, yo man, shut the hell up and talk basketball.”
Irving’s coming-out party was arguably the 2016 NBA Playoffs, when he, along with LeBron James, helped lead the Cleveland Cavaliers to their first NBA championship.
But he has ruffled many feathers since, such as when he said that he believes that the earth is flat.
Several weeks ago, he also said that he feels the Nets don’t really need a coach, which came off as disrespectful to new head coach Steve Nash and assistant Mike D’Antoni.
When training camp started earlier this month, Irving momentarily boycotted the media, although days ago he did break his silence.