On Dec. 4, Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving chose to release a prepared statement, rather than speaking directly to the media as part of the NBA’s “Media Week” activities in advance of the 2020-21 season. In the statement, Irving indicated that he aimed to “ensure that (his) message is conveyed properly” and said that his “goal this season is to let (his) work on and off the court speak for itself.” Reactions to this decision were swift and divided, with some defending Irving and others pointing to his contractual responsibility to speak with the media.
Just six days later, the NBA weighed in on the matter, at least in some way, but announcing a $25,000 fine for Irving and explaining the penalty was “for violating league rules governing media interview access.” From there, the league’s statement expanded to say that “the fines result from Irving’s refusal on several occasions this week to participate in team media availability.”
Irving has not spoken to the media at all since reporting for training camp and, in theory, the Nets and/or the NBA could continue to fine him if his decision persists. As a reminder, the standard contract for NBA players includes language dictating that players must speak to the media, which could convert this from a situation, at least in the eyes of the league, that has some grey area to one that is more definitive in nature.
Given Irving’s immense salary for this season and the fact that his career earnings (both on and off the court) reach nine figures, the 28-year-old may decide that taking the fines is more than worth it. However, it will be interesting to see how both sides continue to react to this ongoing situation, and the league has now taken a definitive stance, at least for now.