Stephen A. Smith and Jay Williams had a heated exchange over Kyrie Irving and his decision not to get the COVID-19 vaccine ahead of the upcoming NBA regular season.
During Wednesday’s episode of ESPN First Take, the two men sat at the debate desk to share their thoughts on how Irving’s decision will impact the Brooklyn Nets moving forward and whether his decision changes their opinion of him.
Stephen A. didn’t hold back and called Irving “stupid” and “selfish” for his decision, while Williams offered some support and understanding.
"I've been covering the NBA now for almost 25 years. This is some of the stupidest nonsense I've ever seen. Just flat-out stupid."@stephenasmith reacts to the latest reports on Kyrie Irving. pic.twitter.com/zmAGP2oM3x
— First Take (@FirstTake) October 13, 2021
Jay Williams trying to peacefully talk on live tv and Stephen a smith starts yelling to make it seem like he’s right lmao pic.twitter.com/lXDNeKVkpD
— jw (@iam_johnw2) October 13, 2021
“I’ve been covering the NBA now for almost 25 years,” Smith said about Irving allegedly wanting to be a ‘voice for the voiceless’. “This is some of the stupidest nonsense I’ve ever seen. Just flat-out stupid.
“We’re talking about a basketball player who signed on to play for the Brooklyn Nets that has left his team hanging.”
Williams didn’t appreciate Smith calling Irving’s decision foolish, and came to the star guard’s defense.
“I’m just telling you how it feels from people, Stephen A. When you start calling people ‘stupid,’ or you start saying that they’re selfish, these things start going all over the internet, that creates a different narrative and people start fighting back against that narrative,” Williams said. “I’m just telling you how it is on the other side, Stephen A. I know you have your thoughts and how you see things…
“That’s his own personal decision. He’s choosing to do that, for him. And when you go through an unprecedented time in the history of this country, you have your own individual right to make your own decision about what you want to do for you and your family. I just respect that right, I’m not saying I agree with that right. I respect it.”
At the end of the day, both men are right.
Irving is hurting his team by being unavailable after the Nets announced he would not be able to play any games or practice unless he got the vaccine. That does let his teammates who planned on counting on him and having him on the court down.
Williams is also correct, however, because Irving has the right to make his own decision.
It will be interesting to watch as this situation continues to develop as the season goes on.