The first knock on Kyrie Irving’s sanity came a few years ago when he told an interviewer that he, personally, had no reason to be certain that the earth was round. It looked flat to him, Kyrie said, and he had always trusted his own two eyes. Could there have been an element of jive that the interviewer failed to pick up on?
In a powerful song called Ain’t Talkin’ Bob Dylan wrote “The whole world is filled with speculation. The whole wide world which people say is round. They will tear your mind away from contemplation. They will jump on your misfortune when you’re down.” When the great hip poet puts a little question mark alongside our image of the globe, people say “Heavy, man, what an artist!” But when the great hip point guard does the same thing, people say “An obvious nutcase.”
Last season Kyrie refused to get the Pfizer, Moderna or J&J vaccine to prevent the spread of Covid-19. Your correspondent is vaxxed and boosted, but doesn’t think it’s totally irrational to abjure products of Big Pharma that were marketed after abbreviated clinical trials. (Least known fact of our times: 57.000 US Americans were killed by Merck’s Vioxx –19 times more than the suicide bombers killed on 911). Because Irving couldn’t play on the Nets’ home court and in other stadiums where the athletes had to be vaxxed, his teammates and the fans suffered. Irving never stated it in clear, political terms but his actions said: Corporate Medicine is messed up and I’m not going to accept its dictates.
When Steve Nash got hired to coach the Nets, Kyrie undermined his authority by saying that given the players’ maturity, decision-making should be a collective process. Sad to see Nash disrespected, but he’ll get another coaching job and build winning teams (assuming the ecodisaster holds off a few more years). And maybe some degree of collective decision-making by the Nets players would have been useful, we’ll never know.
Kyrie’s recent tweet about a documentary called “Hebrews for Negroes” would have had little impact if the media didn’t blow it up into a major story. The NY Times devoted 20 inches to a piece hedded “Nets Suspend Irving After He Passes on Apology.” The subhed said, “Disappointment from the Anti-Defamation League and the NBA.” But buried under all the disapproval was a remarkable riff by Kyrie that reporter Tania Ganguli noted:
“Irving spoke to reporters for about six minutes Thursday before a member of the Nets’ public relations team ended the news conference. Irving spent half that time responding to a question about whether he was surprised that his Twitter post hurt people.
“ ‘I think I can ask a better question which is, ‘where were you when I was a kid figuring out that 300 million of my ancestors are buried in America?’ said Irving, who has African American and Native American heritage. ‘Where were you guys asking those same questions when I was a kid learning about the traumatic events of my familial history and what I’m proud to come from?’ ”
Irving’s rap is garbled (he seems to think that being cryptic sounds wise), but he was saying something important about US history. No reporter asked him to elaborate, to be specific about the extermination of his ancestors. What did he learn about his family history and when and how did he learn it?
Irving is the opposite of a “Holocaust denier,” he is a Holocaust expander. He’s trying to remind people that history is rife with mass exterminations. The European conquistadors and slavers wiped out many more than 6 million people in the Western Hemisphere and Africa with their guns, germs, steel, and priests. But in schools and in the media that vast slaughter is never defined as a holocaust. Only the extermination of European Jewry rises to the H-word level of tragedy. What happened in Europe in the 1940s was THE holocaust, and it’s a thing of the past — as if great masses of people today aren’t concentrated in camps while thousands die every day of starvation, thirst and drowning in desperate attempts to escape their parched homelands.
Getting back to the sports section: “When Irving was asked if he had any antisemitic beliefs, he said he respected all walks of life. ‘I cannot be antisemitic if I know where I come from,’ Irving said when he was asked to answer the question with a ‘yes’ or ‘no’.” That was not good enough for Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, who said the correct answer was an unequivocal NO.
Not only have the Greenblatts assumed sole ownership of the term “holocaust,” they also have gained possession of the word “semite,” which used to refer to other Middle Eastern people as well as Jews. The Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology defines semite as “Hebrew, Arab, Assyrian or Aramaean, regarded as a descendant of Shem (Gen. 3).” Shem was supposedly a favored son of Noah, who, supposedly, was 500 years old when he begat him.
Played alongside “Kyrie Suspended” in the Nov. 4 Times was a very odd story about the San Antonio Spurs waiving a promising player named Joshua Primo because Dr. Hillary Cauthen, a licensed clinical psychologist hired by the team last year, alleged in a lawsuit that Primo “repeatedly exposed himself to her during treatment sessions and that the team did not protect her and others after she reported his conduct.”
Cauthen, “who co-owns an Austin-based performance and psychological services company, claims that Primo first exposed his penis to her in December 2021. She asked for a meeting with Spurs General Manager Brian Wright…but didn’t get one until March 2022. She was then asked to continue working with Primo, who again exposed himself to her in another session.”
Primo’s lawyer countered that his client “never intentionally exposed himself” to Dr. Cauthen or anyone else, and that her “allegations are either a complete fabrication, a gross embellishment or utter fantasy.”
The Spurs did not rehire Cauthen when her contract came up for renewal in August. Her lawsuit is obviously a revenge/money-making move, and it has already resulted in the Spurs cutting Primo (the #12 pick in the 2021 NBA draft).
At a news conference publicizing her suit, Cauthen whined “The organization I worked for has failed me, I spoke up. I asked for help… It took the Spurs 10 months to do the right thing. That’s too long.” Her lawyer added that they’re going to file a criminal complaint accusing Primo of multiple counts of indecent exposure. The Spurs will almost certainly pay them big bucks to go away.
What’s most odd about this sad story is that the clinical psychologist’s role is to help people deal with emotional and mental problems, and “Exhibitionistic Disorder” is listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the American Psychiatric Association. (It’s DSM-5 302.4 for billing purposes.) Instead of admitting that she wasn’t up to treating Joshua Primo, Dr. Cauthen attacked him. She defined his firing by the Spurs as “the right thing.”