Kyrie Irving’s antics are infuriating. But, so were Jim Brown’s. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar seems only to be irritated by one of them. And that’s the problem.
“Kyrie Irving’s thought process is an example of what happens when the education system fails,” Abdul-Jabbar recently wrote about Irving after he posted a 2002 video clip of right-winger Alex Jones’ conspiracy theory about a “New Word Order” that’s trying to profit off misery. It was the latest in a long line of things that Irving has said and done that has made people either ignore or not care about all the charitable things he’s done, as his comments continue to erode that goodwill.
The dude has become a contrarian without a cause, which has made him a gullible pawn.
“Irving does not seem to have the capacity to change, but we have the capacity to keep fighting against his brand of destructive behavior,” Abdul-Jabbar added about Irving. But, while his words may have been directed at the Brooklyn Nets star, they could have also been identifying his homie — Jim Brown.
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Beyond being in a classic photo with Bill Russell, Muhammad Ali, Brown, and others, Abdul-Jabbar also received Sports Illustrated’s Ali Legacy Award alongside Brown and Russell in 2016. But, I’m here to remind you that Jim Brown ain’t never been sh*t. This is why it’s so frustrating to see a titan like Adbul-Jabbar have “all this smoke” for Irving, but let Brown get away with being a detriment to his people — and women — for decades.
That image from the 1967 Muhammad Ali Summit in Cleveland is the stand of unity that we all know it to be. But, that was never its original intention. And do you know how I know? Well, it’s because Abdul-Jabbar told me via email in 2018.
“The purpose of the summit wasn’t to organize a protest, it was to determine the validity of Muhammad Ali’s claims that he would not accept being drafted based on his religious beliefs as a Muslim,” said Abdul-Jabbar. “Everyone was not on board at first in supporting him — including several athletes who were ex-military — which is why we questioned him intensely over a long period of time. In the end, he convinced us of his religious sincerity and we supported him.”
That’s right, the picture that has been used as an image of empowerment when it comes to the Black athlete using their platform in this country was organized by Brown because he — and others — thought Ali was out of line and doing too much.
Who knows, some might have thought it the decision of a “comical buffoon.” In case you didn’t know, like Irving, Brown did a lot of good in his time. But, the bad was really bad. Outside of being a Donald Trump fan that publicly supported and admired him, while also blasting Colin Kaepernick’s peaceful protest by saying that kneeling was “denigrating” the flag, Brown isn’t fond of women.
Take a look:
𑇐 1965: Brown was arrested for assault and battery against an 18-year-old girl before being acquitted
𑇐 1968: Brown was charged with assault with intent to commit murder against a model — the charge was later dismissed
𑇐 1969: Brown had assault and battery charges brought against him from a road rage incident — he was found not guilty
𑇐 1985: Brown was charged with raping a woman — the charges were dismissed
𑇐 1986: Brown was arrested for assaulting his fiancee — the charges were later dropped
𑇐 1999: Brown was arrested and charged with making terrorist threats toward his wife. He was found guilty of vandalism later that year for smashing up his wife’s car with a shovel
Doesn’t seem like the kind of guy Abdul-Jabbar should be on stage accepting Muhammad Ali awards with, does it?
What’s sad about this situation is that someone like Abdul-Jabbar, who’s so admired and revered for the things he always stood for, has turned into a grumpy old man that likes to “punch down” on a younger generation of late. He said HBO’s “Winning Time” series about the Showtime Lakers was “deliberately dishonest,” despite how the people who were depicted in that series have shown us through their words, actions, or their own docuseries that the show pretty much nailed it.
Abdul-Jabbar also had that horrible take on the Chris Rock/Will Smith incident, in which he came off as somebody that wants Black Americans to walk on eggshells to appease white people, as he said the slap was a blow to the entire Black community, but yet, forgot to mention that his son was once sentenced to 180 days in jail for stabbing his neighbor over a dispute about some trash cans. He also destroyed any relationship he’d ever have with LeBron James last year when he criticized him for doing Sam Cassell’s “big balls dance” after hitting a dagger 3-pointer against the Pacers.
“Why do you need to do a stupid, childish dance? It doesn’t make sense.....GOATs don’t dance,” Abdul-Jabbar asked.
James was asked about his relationship with Abdul-Jabbar this week, as he’s set to surpass him as the game’s all-time leading scorer soon. “No thoughts, and no relationship,” said an emotionless James — ouch!
Sometimes, what you don’t say is louder than anything you could have shouted. And over the last few years, as athletes have used their platforms to speak out for change in a way that we hadn’t seen since the 1960s, the divide between Abdul-Jabbar and the ones that look up to him has been quite noticeable.
Just because today’s athletes are doing things differently than they were done in the past doesn’t make it wrong, even when some may be buffoons. Besides, in this era, at least people are holding Kyrie Irving accountable for his faults in a way that was never done with Jim Brown.