Conspiracy theories can even run wild in the NBA. Earlier this month, Cleveland Cavaliers player Kyrie Irving outed himself as a flat Earth truther. Then, on last Wednesday, teammate Richard Jefferson appeared wearing a shirt that read “Flat World Champions.” It was an apparent reference to Irving’s remarks. Since Jefferson showcased the t-shirt, it and other variants have taken off in popularity across the internet.
Irving initially made the comments while on the “Road Trippin’ with RJ & Channing” podcast, hosted by fellow teammates Jefferson and Channing Frye. They sparked several days of intense media coverage, including input from Neil deGrasse Tyson, who said of Irving, “If he wants to think Earth is flat, go right ahead — as long as he continues to play basketball and not become head of any space agencies.”
Soon after his statements, Irving since indicated that he doesn’t actually think the Earth is flat, he was merely probing for a reaction from the media in his previous statements. It’s unclear what he was trying to prove, other than that the public will pay attention when a well-respected, famous person says a ridiculous thing, but that didn’t stop Jefferson from making fun of everyone involved with a new shirt: a maroon tee with “Flat World Champions” and a basketball as a globe printed on the garment.
The decision to wear the shirt seems to have made Jefferson the unlikely hero of this story, injecting the appropriate degree of absurdity that, by necessity, should accompany any conversation about whether or not the Earth is flat.
For those who’d like to join in the fun, Jefferson’s shirt is actually for sale at Fresh Brewed Tees. It has also spawned numerous spin-offs and fan interpretations, including several hilarious offerings on Redbubble. There’s one that reads “Flat World Champions” with the sword from the Cavaliers logo impaling the Earth and another design that depicts Irving’s eyeless head floating through the cosmos with the text “Stay Woke.”
This isn’t the first time that NBA players have goofed around the internet. Plenty of them stirred things up on Twitter with cryptic emojis and tweets leading up to the trade deadline.
Given the level of publicity the Cavaliers have gotten for this story so far, it’s a safe bet that the players like Jefferson won’t be letting this go anytime soon. It’s probably just too much fun for them to lampoon one another in front of their fans, and for the rest of us, it’s just too much fun to watch.