The Root 100 - The Most Influential African Americans in 2020 - 25: Kyrie Irving

Oleg Dyachenko
·1 min read

In 2020, Kyrie Irving established himself as a bona fide leader, not only on the basketball court but also in the social and racial justice arenas. As the coronavirus threw into disarray the NBA's plans for a normal season, the six-time All-Star emerged as a voice who was reportedly advocating behind the scenes for his fellow professional ball players to leverage the opportunity (and their visibility) by opting out of games this year altogether-forcing their usual spectators to truly reckon with the problem of systemic racism in this country in the wake of the killing of George Floyd and so many others. Though Irving's call wasn't taken up en masse by his fellow athletes until late August, when yet another police shooting of a Black man caused the Milwaukee Bucks to launch a strike, the Brooklyn Nets point guard spent the summer putting his money where his mouth is. From producing a TV special, alongside Black Lives Matter co-founder Alicia Garza and Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.), calling for justice for Breonna Taylor to pledging $1.5 million in financial support for WNBA players who chose to opt out of playing this year for health or social justice reasons, Irving continues to show that he isn't afraid to stand up and stand out for what he believes in.