NBA analyst Stephen A.Smith is known for his somewhat controversial statements where he often doesn't hold back on criticizing players. A lot of times, that criticism is unfair, and Smith wants to create a lot of hype to increase viewership, but oftentimes his criticism is on point, and you can't deny the logic he brings into the discussion about a particular topic.
Kyrie is a lost player
This time his harsh criticism was going towards Kyrie Irving, and in his latest appearance, he touched upon everything that was wrong with the way Irving performed and behaved the entire season long. Smith went that far to call Irving the "most delusional athlete in American history," backing his claims that Kyrie didn't show up to play all season and then complained when the fans and the media called him out because of his actions.
"We are witnessing one of the most delusional athletes in American history. He is lost because he is so big, telling everyone else they are lost. You can paint this issue Kyrie in anything you want, but what it comes down to and what everyone is focusing on, you don't want to show up for work. You want to do what you want to do when you want to do it, how you want to do it while you have your hand up for someone else's money. When you get called on it, we are the ones who are puppets. Kyrie actually looks down on us because we want to see him play, and we are demanding that you play."
Irving often went to war with the media members, and it's safe to say there is no love there; you can tell Kyrie doesn't want to answer any type of questions if he doesn't necessarily have to. Smith mentioned Irving's rants on social media against the members of the media and people that see his situation differently, but in reality, everyone was on Irving for not showing up to play the majority of the season and then complaining when he actually has to play. On top of that, getting swept in the first round of the playoffs against the Boston Celtics doesn't help Kyrie's reputation around the NBA.
"Right now, the season is over, and he got 6 months off, 6 months off on top of the 53 games he missed, and he is getting paid over 30 million dollars. Here you are, you don't want to work unless you want to do it when you want to do it. Then you go on a Twitter rant, and you start with this stuff, and why? Because the media that gets paid to cover the sport is asking you about the sport. You voluntarily signed up to play, getting a jaw-dropping amount of dollars to play, and you don't show up to work. They point out the load that you put on your teammates because of your absence and talk about how that well might be the reason why you got swept out of the first round."
Does Kyrie deserve a max contract?
Whether you agree or not with Smith about Kyrie, you can't neglect the fact some of his comments are on point. Kyrie was getting paid while missing over 50 games this season, and all of that could have been viewed differently if the Nets finally had success in the playoffs. Since the playoff success eluded the Nets, a lot of the criticism is on Kyrie, and his future with the franchise is under a big question mark. Kyrie is eligible for a max contract worth more than $200 million, and whether the Nets are going to extend him will probably depend on a complicated conversation the front office will have with him about his intentions and willingness to commit long-term.
Kyrie hasn't shown serious commitment so far in his career, and a lot of times, it seems he doesn't even want to play basketball. When he is engaged and interested, Kyrie is one of the most electrifying and talented players in the league. However, no team in the NBA will commit to a player that is not ready to be in that mode throughout the entire season, and in the playoffs, when it matters the most, you are completely tuned in and prepared to compete.