When the Boston Celtics received Kyrie Irving from the Cleveland Cavaliers in an August trade last season, they knew they were getting a tenacious point guard that would give them serious title potential. But Irving’s skills came at the high price of enduring his seemingly endless stream of flat Earther theories, which have been blamed for setting back the scientific education of his young fan base.
Now it seems, Irving is at least showing some remorse for his statements. Speaking in Boston on Monday, Irving finally issued an apology to science teachers for his insistence upon defending the flat Earth theory:
“To all the science teachers, everybody coming up to me like, `You know I’ve got to reteach my whole curriculum?’ I’m sorry,” Irving said. “I apologize. I apologize.”
He’s got a lot to be sorry for. In a September 2017 interview, Irving claimed that he didn’t want to “bash science,” then proceeded to proclaim that there’s “no real picture of Earth, not one real picture of Earth — and we haven’t been back to the moon since 1961 or 1969.” Despite the obvious photographic evidence, scores of astronauts who have literally seen the earth’s curvature, and mathematical proof that illustrates the earth’s roundness, Irving’s comments somehow struck a chord with kids, and science teachers were alarmed.
In July 2017, middle school science teacher Nick Gurol gave a thoroughly disheartening statement to NPR describing the effect of Irving’s rants:
“How have I failed these kids so badly they think the Earth is flat just because a basketball player says it?” Gurol said. “They think that I’m part of this larger conspiracy of being a round-Earther. That’s definitely hard for me because it feels like science isn’t real to them.”
Irving’s apology, however, may be too little too late. The Economist reported in 2017 that in the past five years, there have been some alarming spikes in “flat Earth” searches on Google.
At the very least, Irving has apologized to teachers like Gurol, and he’s noted that he’s ready to at least stop using his public platform to discuss whatever he actually believes about the Earth’s shape. While the ensuing media storm around his statements have likely dissuaded him from continuing to make himself a martyr to flat-Earthism’s baseless cause, some damage, it seems, has already been done.