- - Tuesday, August 8, 2017

On the growing list of reasons for professional sports franchises not to employ athletes, I present to you a new one, courtesy of Kyrie Irving.

Do you really want your team to employ someone stupid enough to believe the Earth is flat?

Irving, as has been widely reported, wants out of Cleveland. He got a look at the glory that NBA Most Valuable Player Russell Westbrook enjoyed in Oklahoma City and James Harden in Houston — cities that I presume are in view on Irving’s flat Earth — and decided that was a better world than playing second fiddle to LeBron James, even on championship teams.

AUDIO: Redskins kick returner Mike Nelms with Thom Loverro

At first, teams were reportedly lining up to get in on the Kyrie Irving sweepstakes, but that number has dropped. Three teams — Detroit, Miami and Phoenix — are now considered the hot destination spots.

Anywhere Irving goes, he will be the leader, the star that controls the future of that team.

If you are an NBA executive, do you really want to put your team in the hands of a player who believes that something so basic and irrefutable — the shape of Planet Earth — is not what science proved to us centuries ago?

If you are a fan of the Suns, Pistons or Heat, do you really want to root for a player so misguided — so dysfunctional — that he believes the world is flat?

This isn’t funny. Kyrie Irving is the poster child for the war on science.

He became the symbol of that information battle when he let the world know in February in a podcast interview that he believed the world is flat.

“This is not even a conspiracy theory,” Irving said “The Earth is flat. The Earth is flat. … It’s right in front of our faces. I’m telling you, it’s right in front of our faces. They lie to us.”

He later tried to diffuse the damage — and there was damage — in subsequent interviews. “The fact that that could be news all over the world just shows you how it is,” he told reporters. “The fact that it’s a social phenomenon — ‘Kyrie thinks the world is flat’ — is hilarious to me. … That it could actually be news.”

But he doubled down on the foolishness in an interview with ESPN when he said. “I think people should do their own research, man,” Irving said. “Hopefully they’ll either back my belief or they’ll throw it in the water. But I think it’s interesting for people to find out on their own.

“I’ve seen a lot of things that my educational system has said that was real that turned out to be completely fake. I don’t mind going against the grain in terms of my thoughts.”

“Thoughts?” What “thoughts?”

“I’m glad that it got people talking like this: ‘Kyrie actually thinks the world is flat,’” he told reporters.

Yes. This is healthy debate — the shape of Planet Earth.

I vote isosceles triangle.

Here is the healthy debate that Irving has created — problems for science teachers trying to convince their students that what they teach is the truth, and what their favorite NBA player believes is garbage.

A NPR article told the story of Nick Gurol, whose middle school students believe the Earth is flat.

“Immediately I start to panic,” Gurol said. “How have I failed these kids so badly they think the Earth is flat just because a basketball player says it?”

He told NPR he tried reasoning with students and showed them a video. Nothing worked. “They think that I’m part of this larger conspiracy of being a round-Earther,” he said. “That’s definitely hard for me because it feels like science isn’t real to them.”

There are far more egregious crimes and misdemeanors committed by athletes that are overlooked — see Greg Hardy, domestic violence and the Dallas Cowboys. And right now we are engaged in a debate about whether or not the NFL is blackballing quarterback Colin Kaepernick for his refusal to stand for the national anthem last season in protest of the treatment of minorities in America. So Kyrie Irving’s moronic ramblings about the flat Earth may seem trivial in comparison.

Except there should be something morally insulting to both owners and fans to have the NBA’s Non-Science Guy be their multi-million dollar star.

Thom Loverro hosts his weekly podcast “Cigars & Curveballs” Wednesdays available on iTunes, Google Play and the reVolver podcast network

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