Cavaliers, WWW

Kyrie Irving’s heel turn takes another step: While We’re Waiting

While there have been countless matches and pay-per-views in the history of professional wrestling, 1996’s “Bash at the Beach” may be the one with the most cultural relevance, one that is discussed over 20 years later. It was here, during the Daytona, Florida-based event held by now-defunct World Championship Wrestling (or, WCW) where career-long good guy (or “face”) Hulk Hogan teamed up with the bad guys in Scott Hall and Kevin Nash (or “heels”) to form a faction that would forever change the landscape of the industry, the New World Order. This “heel turn” carried plenty of symbolism, including Hogan, who had worn red and yellow throughout his tenure as a wrestler, joining a group of guys who wore nothing but black with the occasional red or white accents. His bleach blonde beard was died black, and his mantra of urging young kids to say their prayers and eat their vitamins was now met with a guy whose bandana said “Hollywood” while he wore sunglasses indoors. It was as if someone surprisingly took the head off of Mickey Mouse and inside was a guy who looked like a Steve Bucsemi stunt double bathed in Wild Turkey, dragging on a nonfiltered Pall Mall.

On Sunday morning, NBA fans woke up to a viral video of Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving, standing alongside Warriors guard Steph Curry—the very man who he’s matched up with in three straight NBA Finals, winning one and losing two—while the Golden State guard mocked LeBron James. The jabs came in the way of Curry, dancing at a wedding, doing so as if he were James in one of his various Instagram workout videos where the four-time MVP grimaces and grunts his way through a bass-filled workout while someone else films.

First James:

https://www.instagram.com/p/BVXfmnthljC/

And now Steph and Kyrie:

https://twitter.com/TerryLee__/status/891653032898940928

To reset: Irving quietly asked the Cleveland Cavaliers to trade him from a perennial contender so he could ostensibly be the face of a franchise, no longer yearning to play alongside James. The news of these trade requests came out roughly two weeks after they were made, Irving blaming James and his camp for the news coming to light. Thinking was, James wanted to put Irving on blast for no longer wanting to be a member of the franchise, knowing what sort of fan backlash there would be. (Had the Cavs simply traded Irving without knowledge of any of this, all of the WTFs would have been lobbed in the way of the front office. Instead, they’re squarely on Irving.)

Irving would spend the next few days in China on tour with Nike Basketball, posting imagery and videos of the events as if nothing was going on back in the States. On his trip back, however, the point guard uploaded a video of him singing “I’m Coming Home,” the song that will forever be linked to James’ return to Cleveland in the summer of 2014. He promptly unfollowed James on Instagram, and despite his no longer being overseas, has gone radio silent on the Cavs. In Koby Altman’s introductory press conference, it would only be said that the team was in discussion with his representation—not the player himself—and that the situation was “fluid.” We would post a “closing thoughts” roundtable, assuming that the drama had subsided, but Irving insisted we hold his beer as he celebrates the nuptials of one Harrison Barnes.

In a vacuum, each individual instance traverses between “Ugh” and “Are you kidding me?” But as you pile each on one top of another, it’s enough to have Terry Pluto call you out for your online video-posting habits. The video of Curry mocking LeBron is a part of the #LeBronChallenge, an online meme of sorts where folks post videos of themselves working out, howling at a recording smartphone in a variety of capacities, while being overly egregious in the mannerisms inherent in anything physical fitness. Bonus points for yelling things like “Let’s Go!” and adding hashtags about greatness and things about silencing doubters. Anyone who’s upset about Irving being in the video isn’t upset about the video as much as they are what it stands for in the grand scheme of this entire saga.

Summer is king when it comes to ephemeral news. Fans of Major League baseball are busy scouring trade deadline rumors in hopes their team improves heading into the home stretch. NFL Fans are charting the 65th man on in training camp, soaking up every story about some journeyman who’s now in the best shape of his career. But outside of the future employment of Colin Kaepernick, no story in sports is bigger than the one where a team’s multi-time All-Star not only demands to be relinquished from a championship contender, but continues to be the online version of a guy who fouls the shit out of an opponent then puts his hands up as if he didn’t make any contact whatsoever.

Given NBA rules on when certain players can be traded, there’s a very good chance this situation drags out well into August. This is to say, of course, that a trade happens before the season at all. While Altman and Dan Gilbert will call it “fluid,” both men know that any deal they entertain not only has to keep the team in line with their contention window, but also put them in a better position for the future. Irving has two years left on his deal, and while his value may not be any higher than it is now, it’s one of the rare instances where the team has some of the leverage in trade discussions.

There’s no way to know what happens next, but if “Bash at the Beach” taught us anything, Kyrie Irving’s heel turn is only heating up. If I’m Key Felder, I’m staying inside for a while.

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  • Garry_Owen

    Are we entirely certain that we understand entirely the entire context of the short video at the entire wedding reception? Have you ever cut the fool at a wedding reception? I have. (Thank Gpodawund that there were no such things as camera phones when my peers all got married!)

  • mgbode

    No doubt. Though if his goal is to help his future team as much as possible by destroying his value, then…

  • mgbode

    You are talking about Kyrie Irving who has trained for years under the sub-tweet master of LeBron James. Too many ‘coincidences’ to not have an arc to it.

    Also, I love the anti-conspiracy conspiracy. Next-level stuff.

  • mgbode

    I thought that’s what dingos did?

    Or are you more of the ‘get in my belly’ variety?

  • BenRM

    More of the A Modest Proposal variety.

  • Garry_Owen

    I think an argument could be made. I’ll never forget the outrage when this guy was traded, as if we had just lost the genetic hybrid of Jerry Rice and Fred Biletnikoff.

    (Was he traded, or did we “let him walk?” I don’t remember.)

  • JM85

    He can celebrate with whoever. They’re all buddies off the court. But he’s making himself look stupid. Asking for a trade, ignoring the team, mocking LeBron, etc.

  • Chris

    No problems with Curry’s taunt. Iriving’s support of it is blood-boiling.

  • Garry_Owen

    You know the funniest part? My sources say that the guy that filmed the thing was . . . LeBron himself.

  • CBiscuit

    Their voice strikes me as that college aged over the top anti establishment rage against the machine snark. Very juvenile/simplistic in naivete and one note. The fun (other than ess grinning self gratification) and discourse are lacking. As a member of wfny’s team snark, I say there are better ways to snark!

  • Chris

    St. Lawrence… The path he created for his tailbacks would be the St. Lawrence Seaway.

  • mgbode

    He even posted videos of coaching his son’s AAU team in a different state to throw everyone off the trail. Genius!

  • Garry_Owen

    Same state, actually. (You don’t think you don’t know what it is that you think you know.)

  • RGB

    They let him walk.

  • Garry_Owen

    Meh. Lots of players ask for trades. Lots of players, after asking for a trade – because they want to be traded – “ignore” their current team – again, because they actually want to be traded. And the video is a video of another guy mocking LeBron, without any context whatsoever.

  • Garry_Owen

    Outrageous!! Like, torchfork outrageous.

  • Garry_Owen
  • nj0

    Duly noted that they we all should do some self-evaluating about how we contribute to the debacle known as modern life. That said, sports is a hobby and part of the point is getting riled up over stuff that we know deep down doesn’t matter. Meanwhile, this is how these guys act in real life. (Though I hope all parties are kind of in on it and just stirring the pot.)

    Now if you’ll excuse me, adult me needs to watch this Senate subcommittee testimony about formulating our policy of engagement and pressure towards North Korea.

  • Garry_Owen
  • Chris
  • RGB

    We’re still waiting for LBJ’s cryptic passive-aggressive twittergram response to be able to more accurately ascertain the seriousness of KI’s alleged insult.

  • RGB

    Ol Bessie is getting restless…

  • BenRM

    TORCHSPORKS!

  • BenRM

    Unknown unknowns!

  • BenRM

    13 y.o. ben is still in love.

  • nj0

    Textbook wrap-tackle form

  • Chris

    Ben is still in love.

    There, I fixed it.

  • Chris

    Hey, we got a compensatory pick for him.

  • BenRM
  • Steve
  • nj0

    Maybe it’s always been this way, but most of Deadspin’s “stories” are just snarky commentary on actual reporting from another outlet. Plus Buzzfeed style clickbait titles for sports highlights I can get anywhere else.

  • Steve

    As almost always, the most important characteristic is “is he helping my team win games?” If yes, then he’s a stellar person, a real bro, funny, and charming. If no, a jerk of the highest proportions. Note: “is he helping my team win games” does not mean strictly “is he on my team?”. See: Bryan Shaw.

  • scripty

    Also lucky he was born this generation. He’d of been roughed outta the league. Teams totally afraid to body him.

  • RGB

    Which we packaged with a 6th-round pick to move up and draft Care Bear’s hopeful replacement, Roderick Johnson.

  • mgbode

    Yes, we agree on that sentiment fully.

  • Steve

    Defenses before this generation wouldn’t have been able to keep up with him on the perimeter. Without the big shift the NBA has made to get long and athletic defenders, instead of averaging 10 3PA a night, he might average 10 3PM if he played in the 80s.

  • scripty

    If you can’t drive b/c you’d get concussed you’d be one dimensional and that made every player more easily defended. Especially given his glassy constitution.

  • Steve

    That’s one of the things that has changed about the game that has seen Curry and the Warriors in the driver’s seat. It’s no longer that you primarily set up three pointers off a drive to the basket, but that you use the threat of three pointers to set up the other parts of your offense. We saw it just in the last Finals – how many times did Cavs defenders go straight to the three point line when the Warriors were picking up the pace, and left the lane wide open.

    Curry is shooting over guys taller than him and far more athletic than NBA defenders used to be, and off the dribble to boot. Against slower/stronger defenders, he would have countless wide open looks from the three point line.

  • scripty

    Agree with your first half. I don’t agree that guys just 20 years ago were slower. But even if they were, the handchecking on the perimeter would neutralize any major speed differential. You put a handsy Zeke or Joe Dumars type player on Steph consistently, with actually threat of violence in the key, I don’t see Steph as a generational player whereas in this era he is. I’m not saying he’s some slouch or non-all star.. I’m just saying he’s playing in the era that best fits his skill set. To his credit, he would be fine with the longer 3 pt line.

  • Saggy

    geez

  • RGB

    He’s a jackwagon. He refuses to admit the loss to Central Michigan. Even had the team rings made to say 11-2, instead of 10-3.

    https://sportsday.dallasnews.com/college-sports/collegesports/2017/04/19/oklahoma-states-2016-alamo-bowl-rings-bear-11-2-record-despite-three-losses-season

  • mgbode

    I’m laughing even more that they all got rings for winning the freaking Alamo Bowl…

    (and oh, he certainly is but he is quite mockable while being so)

  • mgbode

    Yeah, we’re old Sags.

  • mgbode

    Initially read this thread as if you were now 14yo (still love Kyrie). Was quite confused as my assumption about your age eventually proved to be true.

  • BenRM

    The internet is tricksy business. I am rapidly closing in on “middle aged.”

  • mgbode

    I love how middle age is 45 to 65 (centered on 55, making 110yrs the proper average lifespan for this range) even though the average lifespan is only 78 for a man.

  • BenRM

    I vastly underestimated what the middle aged age range was.

    I suppose I still have a few more good years at…whatever age group I’m in.

  • mgbode

    I will resume assuming you are slightly younger than myself

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