Sports and Society: Kyrie Irving’s job interview

Graphic by Kayla Drazan

I heard someone say that Kyrie Irving is an allegory for the modern American worker. Employers want a return to pre-pandemic normalcy — complete with in-person offices and regular working hours—while their employees increasingly expect their work to adapt to how their lives have already changed because of the pandemic. Except Irving is not down-to-earth, flexible or even making logical demands. He is a missile launcher aimed directly at the heart of whatever NBA franchise he happens to be on.

For those not tuned into the absurd epic known as Kyrie Irving’s NBA career, he has decided once again that his talents are being wasted and forced his way to the Dallas Mavericks. The crux of the issue is that his previous employer was apparently concerned about his track record of not showing up to work — such as when his refusal to get vaccinated prevented him from coming into the office — and was thus reluctant to tie the Nets’ future to a flaky employee with a $198 million rope. 

Irving’s camp contends that he is one of the 10 most talented players in the league, boasting Hall-of-Fame-level offensive skills and clutch performances that quite literally won the 2016 NBA finals. Fair enough. But I would contend that every minute of the last seven years since then has put his resume in the George Santos Hall of Fame of unreliability, except Irving didn’t even have to make it up. 

Relevant Skills: Lethal crossover, killer instincts, quick and efficient team destroyer


Brooklyn Nets (2019-23) 

Point guard, Kevin Durant’s best friend, distraction

  • 2019-2020: Missed most of the season with a shoulder injury.
  • 2020-2021: Relatively stable, won only playoff series (woo!). Requested trade in the offseason, but retracted before the season began.
  • 2021-2022: Refused to play games due to needing to get vaccinated, peddled antisemitic conspiracy theories, got suspended, got swept by the Boston Celtics in Round 1.
  • 2022-2023: All-Star starter, behaved as a functional adult for three months, demanded a trade at the 11th hour and torpedoed my team’s chances of success.

Boston Celtics (2017-19)

  • Made sure to keep one foot out the door at all times
  • Won one playoff series against the pathetic Indiana Pacers
  • Stunted the development of two players who turned out to be better than me, Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown

Cleveland Cavaliers (2011-17)

  • The last time I was truly happy 
  • Hit one super awesome clutch shot over Stephen Curry

Current Employment: 

Dallas Mavericks (2023-present)

  • Currently plotting next move

Interests: Baking, beach reading.

I’m sure the Mavericks looked over this sterling record before the Feb. 9 trade deadline and decided that, because of a shot seven years ago and sporadic moments of greatness since, Irving is worth a contract roughly the size of the GDP of the Marshall Islands. Genius.

If Irving is representative of the modern American worker, then the country is facing a crisis of epic proportions. A better analogy might be Lucy from Charlie Brown. Each time, she entices him with the prospect of kicking the football as she holds it down, but will always — and I mean always — pull it away at the last second. The intrigue lies not with the result but with how she will come up with new and exciting ways to trick Charlie into believing this time it will be different. I will admit I was tricked by the last three months of quiet competency. But now the Nets and I are lying flat on our backs, and Irving is resetting the clock in Dallas.

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