Stop Telling Nick Kyrgios How to Behave

0_alexander-zverev-vs-david-ferrer-acapulco-mexico-27-feb-2019I stayed up late last night watching Nick Kyrgios defeat Rafael Nadal in Acapulco. It was an amazing match.

I’m used to ESPN & Tennis Channel analysts bemoan Kyrgios’s alleged unprofessionalism, which manifests itself in injuries (from lack of training), lackadaisical effort and on court personal conduct violations. I was surprised to hear that Rafael Nadal himself criticized Kyrgios in the post-match press conference, channeling his version of Major League Baseball’s John McCann.

I’m here to tell everyone: step back with that. Kyrgios is an adult. He’s an independent contractor. He can work as much or as little as he wants. He doesn’t owe anybody anything. There’s three very effective constraints which will ensure he doesn’t exceed his bounds:

  1. Father Time, which cuts all our athletes down sooner than we’d like.
  2. ATP points and qualifying rounds, which determine whether he’ll get into tournaments.
  3. Tournament directors’ decisions on wild cards, which are entirely dependent in the case of tour veterans on whether the tournament owners think those players will attract fans and sponsors to the event.

Do I like everything he’s ever done? No. But there’s very few players whom I will watch play Nadal and Djokovic, who consistently, boringly, steamroll all kinds of players who professionally “put in the hard yards.” If Kyrgios is healthy, his matches against the top players are electric.

Can I also mention he doesn’t take 30 seconds to serve and that he’s ready to return when the opponent is ready to serve? I enjoy watching matches a lot more when they don’t take 3 hours because each player is executing a 30 second meditation between points.

If you don’t like Kyrgios, then don’t buy tickets to his matches and don’t watch them.

Stop acting like Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert, thinking that King James was beholden to him.

Are you Kyrgios’s parent or close relative? Did he hire you as his coach, guru or agent? Did he enter into a contract with you? No, no, and no? Then appreciate what he gives you, because you’re not giving him anything comparable.

As long as he isn’t assaulting people, beating up girlfriends, torturing puppies and supporting settler-colonialist imperialism and he can bring terror into the hearts of top players with his extraordinary game, I’ll enjoy Nick Kyrgios however frequently he plays like a champion.

Update 2019-May-16:

Update 2019-Jun-20:

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