Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving plays against the Detroit Pistons in the first half of an NBA basketball game in Detroit, Saturday, Jan. 25, 2020.
AP Photo/Paul Sancya

Kyrie Irving is a great basketball player. He’s averaged 22.4 points, 5.7 assists and 3.7 rebounds a game for nine seasons in the NBA. He won a gold medal in the Olympics. He helped his Duke Blue Devils to the Sweet 16 after coming back from an injury. He is a six-time NBA All-Star. He won the league’s 3-point shooting contest. He was a Rookie of the Year. He won an NBA championship. Some things you might not know: He was born in Australia and his father played at Boston University for Rick Pitino. His godfather is former DePaul Blue Demon and New York Knick Rod Strickland. He wrote, directed and starred in numerous commercials using his Uncle Drew character. He starred in an Uncle Drew movie. He was a high school McDonald’s All American. He played in high school with future NBA player Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. He is just 28 years old and has accomplished more in life than 99.999 percent of the human population already. He is an amazing man. Yes, he once said the world is flat. We all have our weaknesses. Leave him alone. Stop pouncing on and making fun of every word that comes out his mouth. Maybe we need to start listening to him.

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Whether or not Irving said the NBA players should form their own league and whether or not he said the players should not play a contrived playoff format this summer while being quarantined in an Orlando, Fla., hotel and should instead focus on fighting racial injustice, is not important. If LeBron James or Magic Johnson said those things would anyone laugh at them? Of course not. And they shouldn’t. But those things were attributed to Kyrie Irving so the immediate reaction is that he’s goofy. What is wrong with suggesting those things? This proposed NBA playoff is a joke. It’s not going to determine a true champion. It’s just a way for the league to make money. And, yes, trying to eliminate racial injustice in our country is indeed more important than playing meaningless basketball games while being stuck in a hotel for two months.

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Everybody, including Roger Goodell and Donald Trump, now wants Colin Kaepernick back in the NFL. Of course, the only thing that really matters is whether or not Kaepernick wants to play. Let’s hope he does. Will he be content to kneel during the anthem and then just stand on the sidelines for entire games? What would be the point of that? All that would accomplish is to get the politically correct police off the backs of the NFL, which is all that Goodell and the president want. But would standing on the sideline help Kaepernick and his fight against racial injustice? He needs to start. He needs to get back on the field and prove all of those NFL scouts and coaches who didn’t hire him the last three years were idiots, afraid or worse. There is certainly room for Kaepernick on a lot of NFL rosters. He was a middle-of-the-pack starting quarterback the last time we saw him on the field and he’s likely still a middle-of-the-pack starting quarterback. But when he had a talented team around him he took that team to the Super Bowl. Kaepernick can help half the teams in the league right now. Why hasn’t he already signed with a team?

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Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases, says the NFL should operate out of a bubble this season the same way the NBA has proposed for this summer. That’s all well and good for professional players making millions of dollars a year. They have a right to earn a living like everyone else. But what about college football players and other college athletes who aren’t being paid? Shouldn’t they also be in a bubble instead of walking around campus getting infected or infecting everyone else? Are college sports really important enough to risk the health of the athletes and the student body, let alone the entire communities in which they exist? The college and university presidents in this country need to look at themselves in the mirror and ask themselves just what the heck they are doing. Are they educating our nation’s young men and women or are they simply getting rich off them?

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Northern Nevada’s streets are back to being packed. Grocery stores are full of people. Many are not even wearing masks and certainly not staying at least six feet away from other shoppers. Most everyone, it seems, is acting like the coronavirus is a thing of that past. Well, it’s not. It’s still with us. There is no vaccine. It’s not going to vanish on its own. Just because your favorite restaurant is now open doesn’t mean that everything is back to normal. But we have to eat. We need to allow businesses the chance to survive. But one thing we don’t have to do is get together with 15,000 or so of our closest and newest friends and watch 20-year-olds score touchdowns or dunk a basketball. We also don’t need to put our college athletes at risk so that coaches and athletic directors can still earn six and seven figures a year.

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One day major league baseball is pessimistic it will return this summer. The next day it is optimistic. The owners, the media tells us, want a 50-game season while the players want 60 or more games. It is millionaires fighting with billionaires. It has grown tiresome. It also has brought to light just how separated the players and owners have become from their fans. Baseball is already on the decline in this country because our short-attention-span public is obsessed with football. The national media already barely pays attention to baseball because, well, it’s easy to just pay attention to quarterbacks and LeBron James. Baseball had a great opportunity this summer to recapture the nation and right now it is flushing that opportunity down the drain.

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Baseball’s Rob Manfred is quickly establishing himself as the worst commissioner in the history of professional sports. That title used to belong to the NHL’s Gary Bettman. But Bettman’s league is seemingly back on track to get back on the ice soon and it got there without the league and the players looking like selfish jerks. Manfred should study the NBA’s Adam Silver, who basically just lets his players run everything. The only thing laughable about Kyrie Irving’s statement that players should form their own league is that the players already have their own league. It’s called the NBA. Manfred botched the Houston Astros-Boston Red Sox sign-stealing scandal. He allowed the sport to use a super ball last year that turned games into a joke. Only three things happen now in baseball: A strikeout, a walk or a home run. Manfred allowed the implementation of a goofy pitch clock and a three-batter minimum for relief pitchers. If Manfred had his way every team would make the playoffs and the sport would look like college football’s foolish bowl season. Manfred became commissioner after working under former commissioner Bud Selig, who used to own the title of the worst commissioner in the history of pro sports. What did we expect?

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The saddest thing about sports shutting down since March is not the lack of pro and college sports. It’s the lack of youth sports. You are only 7, 9 or 11 years old once. Losing one year of Little League (or softball, soccer, track and field, volleyball or any other sport) at that age is devastating. You can never get it back. You can only play high school sports for four years. Losing one entire year is unthinkable. Sports and all it teaches us (some of which is actually good and wholesome) is important for our nation’s children. It’s not important anymore for the likes of LeBron James, Bryce Harper or Ezekiel Elliott. They already have their money. They already played sports as a kid.

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Oklahoma State football coach Mike Gundy needs to disappear. Why hasn’t Oklahoma State fired him yet? Would Gundy still have a job if he coached in California? Gundy has been widely criticized for wearing an offensive T-shirt. He has been accused of using a racial slur. And he still has a job at a state university. When Gundy publicly berated a reporter almost a decade ago, there wasn’t a coach in the country that didn’t back him up during his laughable “Come after me. I’m a man. I’m 40” tirade. College coaches, after all, love to berate and bully the media because, well, they can. Well, who is backing him up now? Oklahoma State, for one. And that’s all that matters since they pay his $4 million-plus-a-year contract. It’s time Oklahoma State goes after him. He’s now 48. He should know better. He obviously doesn’t.





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