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Who is Kyrie Irving?

Kyrie Irving is the star point guard for the NBA champion Cleveland Cavaliers. He's also my favorite NBA player.


Your favorite player? Really? Don't tell me you're one of those people who gets a new favorite player every time a different team wins a championship. You're the worst type of sports fan.

I've actually been on Kyrie island since 2010. And I have the receipts to prove it! I first wrote about him in 2010 on VSB. And then again in 2011 on VSB. And then in 2012 in a piece for EBONY.


As many of my friends will tell you, it's not uncommon for conversations with me to go like this:

Friend: "I never quite understood why meat loaf has its own name. It's just an awkwardly shaped meat patty. We should start calling meat loaf awkwardly shaped meat patties. What do you think?"


Me: "Yo, Kyrie dropped 55 on Dame Lillard last night! That's what I think!"

Ok, ok, ok, ok. I get it. You've been down since day one. So why is he in the news today?


Kyrie's performance in the NBA Finals — where he outplayed unanimous MVP and sports media darling Stephen Curry — propelled him to a different level of fame. And this larger platform has also enabled many women — Black women, especially — to notice that he's an attractive young man. This attribute of his was particularly noticed during the Cavs' victory parade, where he took J.R. Smith: The Perpetually Shirtless Pipelayer's lead and also went bare-chested.

And, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention that his choice of attire — fitted gray sweatpants — made another one of his possessions, um, noticeable.


So basically his entire post-championship week was an extended Snapchat thirst trap?


I see. So, what happened next?

A day or two after the parade and the subsequent Kyrie-inspired undergarment humidity, footage emerged of Kyrie and a dozen or so women enjoying themselves on a yacht.


So…what's the big deal about that? He's young, rich, handsome, famous, and presumably single. I don't see the issue.

Well, Kyrie is Black. And, from the looks of the clip, each of the women on the yacht were White. GirlsGoneWild-type White. So White that if there was cocaine on that boat, people would be confused about what to sniff.


And this resulted in both a week's worth of memes and jokes directed towards Kyrie — 92 percent of which were either clever and corny ways of saying "mayo" or portmanteaus of his name and "Taye Diggs" — and an acknowledgement from many Black women that they felt a certain way about it.

Felt a certain way? What does that even mean?

Well, I don't think any Black women lost any sleep over who Kyrie chose to party with. But for many it did sting a little bit to see this guy who they were crushing on just 24 hours earlier choosing to surround himself with the women in rows A through C at every Taylor Swift concert.


See, this doesn't make sense to me either. Because, I mean, it's not like those women were invited to the boat to play Yahtzee, swap couscous recipes, and debate gentrification. So basically it seems like the Black women upset about this are upset that Kyrie didn't invite Black women to his freaky sex boat. Shouldn't they be, well, glad he didn't do that?

Eh. It's complex, man. There's centuries worth of slavery residue, colorism, Eurocentric standards of beauty, and episodes of "The Facts of Life" that need to be considered to understand the context here. Yes, in a vacuum, people upset about the objectification of Black women should be pleased that apparently no Black women were objectified on Kyrie's Snow Bunny Sex Yacht. But optics matter. And what was seen — and felt — was this uber-eligible Black bachelor with tens of thousands of Black women singing his praises apparently making a choice that would seem to communicate that he considers Black women to be invisible.


Also, I guess there's the whole cultural and sexual context of the superstar Black athlete choosing to exclusively date and marry White women — White women who made themselves very available to him after learning he was an athlete. Perhaps this made the optics of Kyrie's Snow Bunny Sex Yacht sting even more.

I'm glad you brought this up. Charlamagne Tha God alluded to this in a tweet, saying "Kyrie Irving an NBA player that likes white women. In other meaningless, stereotypical NBA news Basketball players are also tall."


But if you went down the line and named the most popular and prominent Black NBA players today — Lebron, Steph Curry, Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, Chris Paul, Dwyane Wade, Carmelo Anthony, etc — they all either have Black girlfriends or Black wives. Which just tells you how strong and settled that stereotype is. Even with evidence that would seem to contradict it, it remains a "truth."


So basically you're saying that Black athletes shouldn't date, sleep with, or marry White women, and that Black women are justified for believing that too?

No. Kyrie — and any other athlete who happens to be Black — can date whoever the hell they want. (Also, Kyrie has actually been romantically linked to Black women before; most notably Callie Rivers — daughter of LA Clippers coach Doc Rivers.) And, it's important to remember that this is one of those stories where the ratio of "how many people are talking about this" to "how many fucks people actually give about this" is imbalanced. I'd say there have been 27,000 words said for every half of a fuck that's actually given.


It's just helpful to understand and acknowledge the context there before reacting to and making judgements about the way (some) Black women reacted.

So, what's next for Kyrie?

He's on the Olympic basketball team. And the Olympics are in Rio. So maybe he should invest in some Zika nets for his Snow Bunny Sex Yacht.

Damon Young is the editor-in-chief of VSB, a columnist for GQ.com, and the author of What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Blacker (Ecco/HarperCollins)

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