Kyrie Irving Says He Didn’t Fit On Team USA | Did USAB Executive Grant Hill See Mavericks Guard As “Chaos Agent” and “Locker Room Cancer”?

If anyone represents the United States game in its true essence, it’s Kyrie Irving, with his playground flair, unrivaled ball-handling skills, clutch gene and mastery around the basket. It brought him a championship and a perennial position amongst the league’s elite performers. 

But he won’t be playing in Paris. His elegance, precision and unique skill set won’t be a part of the festivities. 

Kyrie Irving Snubbed From Team USA 12-Man Roster

Reporters recently caught up with Kai and asked him about the USAB snub. Irving, as always, gave props to his basketball brothers in their journey towards Olympic gold.

“I wish my brothers well. I just didn’t fit into this team. At this point in my career, I think my focus should be on winning a championship,” Kyrie told reporters.

Irving also addressed the potential damage that his “reputation” as a locker room malcontent might have done to influence his omission. He recently told reporters he’s fed up with the various negative narratives surrounding him.

“I think if you look at some of the guys on our team, we’ve dealt with a lot of naysayers, a lot of critics, and a lot of noise,” Irving said. “Just like other teams, but I think specifically with us. Somehow, I was called a chaos agent for a little bit. And there was this narrative that I’m a locker room cancer.

“All these things that ended up becoming just these run-a-show media pundits,” Irving continued. “I didn’t want to be the butt of anyone’s joke. I don’t mind being the butt of anyone’s joke, but not at the expense or consequence of my teammates’ success and our success as an organization.

“I’ve just taken a lot of hits, learned how to hit back, learned how to protect myself, learned how to protect my brothers and my sisters and keep the main thing the main thing,” Irving added.

Isiah Thomas Was Snubbed From 1992 Dream Team

When Kawhi Leaonard was chosen to complete USA Basketball’s roster for the 2024 Paris Olympics, their squad is now complete. That also means that Kyrie Irving was snubbed. 

If it can happen to Isiah Thomas with the Dream Team it can happen to Irving, who won’t be a part of the last run at international greatness for LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard and Steph Curry. They are the Mount Rushmore players of this past generation, dating back to Kobe’s retirement tour. They probably won’t be in the league when the 2028 Olympics rolls around.   

In addition, team USA didn’t even medal at the 2023 FIBA World Cup, so similar to back in the day when John Thompson won the bronze with college players in 1988 and USA decided to allow the legends of the NBA game to team up like Voltron and obliterate the field in 1992, USA Basketball was determined not to end up embarrassed in Paris. 

Kyrie Irving Is Either Loved Or Loathed

Kyrie Irving is beloved in some circles and held in reverence for his basketball skills, philosophies on life, hardline questioning of government and words of enlightenment he offers through a Phil Jackson-like zen musings. 

In others he is seen as a conveyer of misinformation, an anti-vaxxer and a divisive locker room influence, who uses his profound basketball ability to manipulate narratives and fall short of being fully invested in the task at hand. 

Race may indeed play a part in this public conflict concerning Irving, a guy who is never in trouble with the law and always gives back to his community, giving aid in causes that he does not tweet out to the world to make himself look better. 

Irving has been an exciting wingman to Luka Doncic, averaging about 26 points per game, five assists and five rebounds. He has kept his social media posts and public opinions concerning anything unrelated to basketball at bare minimum while remaining true to his beliefs and lifestyle.

Why Not Kyrie?

With the Games a little more than three months away, Team USA has picked the 12 players it wants to bring to Paris this summer. 

There’s no real reason why Jalen Brunson or Kyrie couldn’t be the point guards for Team USA. Jrue Holiday and Tyrese Haliburton aren’t better players. They do get it on the defensive end a bit more, but people don’t come to the Olympics to see Team USA play hard-nosed defense. It’s a festival. A flex of your superior abilities as well as a team competition. 

Making the decision more perplexing is Kyrie already won two gold medals playing for USA Basketball in 2014 at the World Cup and at the 2016 Rio Olympics, where he won tournament MVP honors in 2014 and posted 11.4 points and 4.9 assists in 2016.

As Kyrie noted, back then you had to go through numerous tryouts and prove your worth against the best competition. Last year, USAB Executive Director Grant Hill announced that players would no longer have to try out to make the team.

“I grew up in a time when we actually had to try out for USAB,” said Irving. “And we did meet up as a group and as peers and there was a mutual respect that we earned from one another in trying out and seeing what five meshed well.”

” I missed that fun part of it of just getting together, but I just wish my brothers well,” Irving said.

Whatever the reason, from a pure basketball standpoint, it would have been great to have Kyrie back on the Olympics team sharing his jewels with the world. At the same time, Hill probably had in the back of his mind that he didn’t want anything that happened to turn political. Irving has been a lightning rod for such things in the past and that might have played a factor in selecting Kawhi, who barely ever speaks, over Kyrie, who has the potential to ignite controversy with what he says.

Back to top