Kyrie Irving defended Ja Morant on Monday by taking a shot at the media.
The latter was courtside at FedExForum after serving an eight-game suspension for going on Instagram Live while holding a gun in a Denver nightclub. After the Memphis Grizzlies beat the Dallas Mavericks, Irving embraced Morant on the court and revealed postgame what he told the All-Star guard.
“When you’re dealing with particular hardships in the public eye, especially with the media being attracted to just keeping up with what we’re doing, or what’s the next kind of grab or story,” Irving told reporters on the media’s coverage of Morant, per Awful Announcing’s Brandon Contes.
“I don’t want to assume anything by every media member, but that’s just the way it seems from me and my perspective. It’s just, there was an overload of judgment on Ja. And there was an overload of judgment on what I had going on, and there’s usually an overload of judgment from the public court of opinion.”
When he was with the Brooklyn Nets earlier this season, Irving was suspended for failing to disavow antisemitism after he promoted a film that was widely criticized for containing antisemitic tropes. He posted an apology, which was deleted after he was traded to the Dallas Mavericks.
“I wish we can say we can control what the media says or we can control what other people say, but we can?t,” Irving said. “So with Ja dealing with that, I think the initial shock was dealing with the public opinion.”
While Irving, Morant and other athletes deserve not to have judgement passed onto them, the former has taken multiple shots at the media for reporting on an important story.
Morant has not been pressed by the media, and his only interview was with ESPN’s Jalen Rose, which was criticized for being soft. The Grizzlies All-Star had two other incidents from last season come to light, which is relevant since if Morant were to miss games, that would sharply affect Memphis. The 23-year-old also admitted he was trying to be someone he’s not in that video.
The story simply isn’t one the media is blowing up for no reason. The incident Monday between Dillon Brooks and Irving, where the latter allegedly didn’t want the former’s jersey, is an example of a non-story, especially since Irving downplayed the incident postgame.
NBA players rightfully want to be seen more as basketball players, but they cannot, nor should not, pick and choose what gets spotlighted, especially if their actions can create a negative impression on a fan.