Even though he is one of the best and most skilled guards in the NBA, Kyrie Irving is somewhat underappreciated among the fans because of his antics off the floor. Irving was never afraid to speak his mind about many things related and non-related to basketball, which caused a lot of attention from the media, and it portrayed him in a somewhat negative way. On top of all that, his time with the Boston Celtics didn’t go as everybody thought it would; Irving now holds the title as one of the most unlikable players in the league.
He’s been under a lot of scrutiny from the media and the fans, and according to his godfather, former NBA player Rod Strickland he doesn’t deserve the negativity that is coming his way. Strickland is obviously subjective because of his personal connection with Kyrie and his family. In an interview for Heavy podcast, he talked about what makes Kyrie different from other players in the way he thinks.
Kyrie is just different, and he thinks differently. I think people sometimes don’t like that. You can just watch him play basketball, and it will tell you his different; he thinks differently. You can’t do the things he does on the court without being creative, so his mind is different. His thoughts and what he thinks of certain things are maybe different.Rod Strickland, via Heavy
According to Strickland, the main problem is people who superficially see Kyrie and everything he did not just on the court but also off the court. He’s been active in the community, donating millions of dollars to different charity organizations, so for Strickland, it’s mind-boggling; he is criticized by people who haven’t done anything along those lines.
He is an incredible basketball player, he won a championship, perennial All-Star, future HOF, smart, intelligent, good looking. He does plenty of things in the community, so what is the issue? It’s hard for me to see successful people be chopped down. You become successful, and then there is all this judgement. I don’t mean to say this in the wrong way, but you judge by the people who haven’t accomplished what you accomplished, and that becomes frustrating. You can’t give your energy to that because it doesn’t matter. What has he done wrong? If you talk about skill and talent, you have to tell me another player in NBA history who is as skilled and talented as Kyrie.Rod Strickland, via Heavy
After his time with the Celtics, in which Irving took a lot of heat for not taking the leadership role in a sense everybody thought he would, he signed with the Brooklyn Nets where he joined forces with Kevin Durant, who in his regard is not favored among a lot of NBA fans. The perception fans have for them and especially for Kyrie might change if they win a championship together with the Nets. However, many people dislike Kyrie’s behavior, which probably won’t change, and will have to accept him for who he is, whether they like it or not.