On a night to honor our nation’s military, NBA player Kyrie Irving honored two veterans with a special post-game gesture, reported CBS Sports.
After Irving’s Boston Celtics won 109-102 over the Brooklyn Nets, he walked toward the stands, where four uniformed soldiers were standing court-side. He pulled off his game-worn jersey and Nike sneakers and handed the items to two female soldiers. The soldiers’ surprise and appreciation were readily apparent from their reactions.
One of them cried out, “Oh my God! Thank you so much!”
Irving then proceeded to shake hands with all four of the soldiers present and then headed toward the team’s locker room.
Basketball fans took to social media to commend Irving for his gesture.
One Twitter user tweeted, “Your gift to the vets was [an] incredibly patriotic gesture, thank you for recognizing our vets. Good luck with your future.”
Another individual noted the basketball player’s action in comparison to the NFL, citing the headline-making national anthem protests sparked by ex-49ers player Colin Kaepernick. (Kaepernick most recently made headlines when GQ Magazine named him “Citizen of the Year,” amid much debate.)
User Bryan DuChane tweeted, “After last night, the NBA has a new fan. Kyrie Irving gave his game day shoes and shirt to a group of US Military fans. The NFL could learn from Irving’s gratitude to Our Military.”
Irving’s token of gratitude was one of a few acts of appreciation from both basketball teams on Military Appreciation Night, which was part of the NBA’s Hoops For Troops initiative. The home team — the Brooklyn Nets — hosted several veterans from nearby Fort Hamilton army base in a privately coached game the previous evening. Irving’s actions came on the heels of his first game back on the court after suffering a facial fracture, and in his triumphant return, he scored 25 points to lead his team to victory — and demonstrated selflessness in a big way.