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Kyrie Irving has a less-than-stellar reputation as a leader among teammates.
But the six-time All-Star appears to have the broader respect of his peers.
Player representatives of the National Basketball Players Association voted Irving as a vice president of the organization on Monday during their winter meetings in the Bahamas. He’ll replace Pau Gasol, who recently completed a three-year term as a vice president of the NBPA.
Irving joins nine players including president Chris Paul on the NBPA’s executive committee.
“I want to help move the union forward with innovative ideas, not only on social issues but also with business ventures into a new space,” Irving said via a release from the NBPA announcing the news.
Kyrie the leader?
The decision comes as a surprise to many who have watched criticism of his leadership follow Irving throughout his NBA career.
“Everyone respects his talent, but he's hard to play with,” an anonymous teammate told Stadium in 2019. “It's all about him."
Irving’s reputation for mood swings and shutting down communication with teammates has followed him from the Cleveland Cavaliers through Boston to the Brooklyn Nets.
As the Celtics have thrived in his absence, the 25-28 Nets have fallen off last year’s 42-40 pace since adding Irving to their roster.
Drama followed Irving to Brooklyn
Irving’s response in January to the Nets’ slow start was to discuss the “glaring” holes on a roster that at that point had gone 13-13 without out him and 5-9 with him as he missed much of the beginning of the season with a shoulder injury.
But Irving has a strong niche fan following despite (or perhaps because of?) his flat-earth beliefs and sometimes hostile relationship with NBA supporters.
That appeal also applies to his peers, who have voted him to an NBPA leadership position.
Irving joins Andre Iguodala (first vice president), Anthony Tolliver (secretary-treasurer), Bismack Biyombo, Malcolm Brogdon, Jaylen Brown, CJ McCollum and Garrett Temple (vice presidents) on the NBPA’s executive committee alongside Paul.
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