Kyrie Irving said he believes the Earth is flat. Kyrie Irving, whose job is to throw a spherical ball that depends on the Earth’s gravity to fall into a hoop, said he believes the Earth is flat. He did so on a podcast with teammates Richard Jefferson and Channing Frye. The podcast was recorded on an airplane, an invention invented by people who knew the world was round, and one that would not be able to operate if the world was flat. Friday night, he doubled down on it to ESPN reporter Arash Markazi.
Irving isn’t the first NBA player to trumpet a blatantly false conspiracy theory — Jahlil Okafor was tricked by a fake documentary on the Discovery Channel into believing the existence of mermaids. (Duke really needs to make Non-Crazy Things 103 a mandatory class for one-and-done basketball players.) And since it’s All-Star Weekend, all the NBA’s superstars are in one place, making it possible for reporters to get everybody’s opinion on one of the most basic scientific facts. For example: Here is a tweet saying that LeBron James said Irving is free to make up his own mind on whether or not the world is flat.
Draymond Green said that he doesn’t have all the information on the subject and was unable to assess whether or not the world was round.
He also said you can’t criticize a person’s opinions, which (a) is incorrect and (b) doesn’t apply to saying “the Earth is flat,” which isn’t so much an opinion as a falsehood.
Relevant: Green once tweeted that he believes the Earth is flat in 2010. Wilson Chandler of the Nuggets isn’t at All-Star Weekend, but he seemed to agree that the world might be flat.
Look, before we go any further here. The Earth is round. This is not up for debate. It is a fact. You can see this yourself, without flying into outer space! You can go down to the ocean with a pair of binoculars and watch boats disappear over the horizon — the bottom of the boat always vanishes beyond the Earth’s curve before the top. You can drive toward a city and see the skyscrapers’ tops sprout up from the earth. We didn’t need to build rockets to fly into outer space to discover the Earth is round: We were able to build rockets to fly into outer space because ancient Greek dudes, without even the technology of the cheapest telescopes you can order from Amazon today, looked at the stars and calculated that the Earth was round, setting into motion virtually every scientific discovery ever made.
Saturday, the media gave Irving the option to step back from the hypothetical edge of the Earth, asking him once again if he really believed the Earth is flat. He didn’t really answer either way, and instead questioned the news media, saying he was “glad that it got people talking.”
It’s possible Irving subscribes to one of the world’s dumbest conspiracy theories. (The “global warming is fake” crowd is wrong, but at least they’re trying to disprove something we can’t as easily prove for ourselves.) And it’s possible James and Green really think the Earth’s roundness is merely a matter of opinion, rather than the most widely agreed upon fact in scientific history.
It’s also possible they’re just messing with the media. Irving has expressed unhappiness with the idea that the media turns his potential thoughts into stories, and then turns his opinions about the media into stories of their own.
Irving isn’t touting the so-called evidence that Flat Earthers often point to. (My favorite: The United Nations logo is a sign the world’s global elites know the world is truly flat, and are trying to hide it from us by making it their logo.) As of Saturday, he’s saying that we shouldn’t blindly believe everything we’re told.
I don’t know whether Irving is genuinely a Flat Earther, or whether he’s just trolling. Either way, he’s proving the point that motivated his prior qualms with the media. If a prominent athlete claims to disagree with a fact, we might be making it worse by telling everybody about it.