The latest in NBA Zapruder analysis is this seemingly benign clip of Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant talking in a hallway during All-Star Weekend. Knicks fans, the most deluded NBA enthusiasts (insofar as this is a different group of people), and armchair lip readers all claim to see Irving telling his friend, “Two max spots, it’s time,” while holding up two fingers. See what you can make out in the video, first shared by Ben Stiner of Amico Hoops:
It’s a wonderfully stupid powder keg, with all the right ingredients to explode: All-Star break news vacuum, free agency hubbub, grainy civilian video, conspiratorial cork-board reasoning. There’s no chance Durant and Irving, both painfully alert to the tremors of the basketball media, couldn’t anticipate the silly reaction to their “private” conversation, and it would’ve been easy enough to respond in an equally silly way.
Irving had that opportunity a few days later. Reporters asked Irving how he felt about the video and whether he wanted to “pour water” on the rampant speculation. The Celtics guard was peeved, as seen in this video from the Boston Globe’s Gary Washburn, and he claimed not to understand why the questions were being asked at all, while posing some hilarious questions of his own.
The Kyrie doth protest too much. Here’s a transcript of the characteristically fake-deep exchange, which includes Irving’s question, “Is the internet real for you in your life?” [A: Yes].
“This is the stuff that just doesn’t make the league fun. Like, it doesn’t make the league fun. Nobody helps promote the league even more by doing bullshit like that, or just fictitious putting this on what we’re talking about. It’s just, it’s crazy. I guess that’s what you wanted, huh?” Irving said, participating in the exact circus that does in fact make the league fun for millions of fans.
It’s a little rich to hear these complaints from the guy who was having fun leaking flat earth theories over the course of months. He knows exactly how this all works. Any big name in the NBA might as well adopt the Steve Kerr approach, accept that they live in a never-ending soap opera, and play their coy part. Losing your sense of humor is the only way to lose the game, anyway. Now lighten up and see if you can make poor Marcus Morris smile.