NBA All-Star Kyrie Irving Has Controversial Opinions on the Earth's Shape

Athletes aren’t often known for their intellect, but their beliefs can still spread. And Kyrie Irving may be a flat-earther.

Jamie Lerner - Author

Jun. 12 2024, Published 10:20 a.m. ET

Kyrie Irving and the Earth
Source: Getty Images

At 32 years old, NBA All-Star Kyrie Irving is much younger than the scientific evidence that proves that the Earth is round. However, now that he’s playing in the 2024 NBA Finals with the Dallas Mavericks, fans are reminded of his controversial views. In 2017, he was on the up and up just after winning the NBA Championships in 2016. But he also shared that he thought the Earth could be flat.

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It was a weird time — Trump had just been elected President of the United States and conspiracy theorists were louder than ever. Kyrie moved to Boston to lead his own team, leading the Celtics to a 16-2 start, but then an injury and his grandfather’s death sent him into “some of the worst mental health issues of [his] life.” And then, he started speaking about how the Earth could be flat. So is he a flat-earther today?

Kyrie Irving plays in the 2024 NBA Championship Finals
Source: Getty Images
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Kyrie Irving could still be a flat-earther today, although he was never clear about what exactly he believed.

In 2017, America was a controversial country to live in after Trump won the election but lost the popular vote. (America’s voting laws are weird.) Regardless, it was rife with conspiracy theories, and NBA All-Star Kyrie was at the forefront of several of them. He had what New York Magazine called a “free-associative mind” frequently showcased on his teammates’ podcast, Road Trippin’.

He hinted at the possibilities of a faked moon landing, JFK conspiracies about Kennedy trying to “end the bank cartel,” and even suggested people read a book written by Netflix’s Wild Wild Country cult leader Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh. And more famously, Kyrie suggested that the Earth might not be round.

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One NBA agent said of Kyrie, “Did you ever grow up with a guy in high school who smoked a ton of weed, who is constantly thinking about s--t all the time?” We all know that guy, but it’s surprising when he comes in the form of a masterful baller, who we typically revere for athleticism. But some people give credence to athletes beyond their skills — they are public figures, so what they say and do and believe matters.

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When Kyrie discussed the possibility of a flat Earth, young students questioned the science.

Unfortunately for us, athletes make a huge impression on young people regardless of their educational background. In fact, Kyrie was pretty well educated — he grew up in Montclair, N.J., and he attended St. Patrick High School before attending Duke for one year. He was drafted into the NBA by the Cleveland Cavaliers after his freshman year so he never finished his college career, making him one of the youngest NBA players.

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Kyrie had few friends on the team and was eager to learn. This left him vulnerable to the circulating conspiracy theories and YouTube rabbit holes, which he allegedly fell into with his bestie, Alex Jones (he just happens to have the same name as the famous conspiracy theorist) the winter after his grandfather died.

“Alex is like, ‘I don’t know, man. We don’t know the Earth is round. Kyrie and I have been watching stuff,’” a source told New York Magazine. “Kyrie kept asking if we knew for sure that it was ‘constitutionally’ round.” Kyrie, however, doubled down in a 2018 New York Times interview.

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“Can you openly admit that you know the Earth is constitutionally round?” Kyrie asked the interviewer, who was probably thinking, ‘Um, yes.’ “Like, you know that for sure? Like, I don’t know. I was never trying to convince anyone that the world is flat. I’m not being an advocate for the world being completely flat. No, I don’t know. I really don’t. It’s fun to think about though. It’s fun to have that conversation.”

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The interviewer pushed back to get to the heart of Kyrie’s beliefs, who claims that he just likes to have the conversation. However, Kyrie didn't say for sure that the Earth is or isn't flat. He advocated for healthy debates but refused to differentiate between fact and opinion.

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“Even when the debate is happening within science, it’s just concrete facts vs. popular opinion or theories,” he said. “And I’m up for that, man. I’m aware of the responsibility of what my biases and judgments are and of kids being able to connect with that.”

After a while, however, Kyrie has seemed to keep most of his controversial “debates” out of the spotlight. He even apologized in 2018 for suggesting the Earth could be flat publicly. “To all the science teachers, everybody coming up to me like, ‘You know I’ve got to reteach my whole curriculum?’ I’m sorry,” he said, charming the Forbes Under 30 summit into laughter. “I apologize. I apologize … At the time, I was like huge into conspiracies. And everybody’s been there.”

Well, we’ve all believed some questionable stuff. But thanks to photos from outer space, proven voyages around the world, and other facets of science related to cartography, meteorology, geology, and more, most of us know that the Earth is round. And it’s not really worth a “debate.”

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