Salley spoke exclusively to TMZ and said that Irving is vigilant about his health and attempts to delve deeper when exploring issues.
“I think Kyrie Irving is the premier athlete — professional,” Salley said. “I think he’s conscious. I think he thinks it through. I think it’s very important that people pay attention too, he’s not into the lies, the glitz. He’s into taking care of his body.”
Salley also declared himself an enthusiastic supporter of the veteran guard.
“I’m the biggest Kyrie fan,” Salley added. “Everything he does, I take my hat off to him.”
In addition, Salley’s apparent praise of Irving’s vaccination stance was coupled with a shot at the talented guard’s many critics.
“You have a guy who didn’t get the virus, and everybody who talked about smack about him got it really bad,” Salley said. “He had a very strong immune system.”
Salley’s statement is actually inaccurate since Irving did test positive for the virus earlier in the 2021-22 NBA season. Irving’s case seemingly had no complications, and it’s uncertain just how severe some of the cases involving his critics were.
Irving’s future with the Nets remains something of a mystery, though he’s indicated that he’ll re-sign with the team. He does have a player option for the 2022-23 season that’s set to pay him about $36.9 million to play for the Nets.
While that steep amount of money would seemingly make the decicion an easy one for most people, Salley’s reference to Irving often going against the grain should be remembered before any assumptions are made.
Regardless of what takes place with Irving, Salley remains enthusiastic about the guard’s abilities and trajectory.
“I watch how he plays,” Salley said. “His dribbling, handling; he’s going to be a Hall of Famer.”
Irving will indeed likely end up in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. How quickly that occurs remains unknown.