Golden State Warriors superstar Steph Curry said last week on the Winging It podcast with Andre Iguodala, Vince Carter, Kent Bazemore and Annie Finberg that he believed the moon landing was staged—comments he later apologized for making.
"Curry says he doesn't believe in the moon, it's on CNN, and they say we're just jocks, we're just athletes, but it's on your channel," Irving said, per Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe. "We're (thinkers) but you don't want us to be that, so whomever 'you' is, I don't know what that mold is."
That was one snippet from Irving's longer thoughts on the matter, according to Chris Grenham of CLNS Media:
As for Curry, he said last week that his comments were in jest.
"Obviously I was joking when I was talking on the podcast," he told Nick Friedell of ESPN.com. "[Then] I was silently protesting how stupid it was that people actually took that quote and made it law as, 'Oh my God, he's a fake-moon-landing truther,' whatever you want to call it, yada, yada, yada. So I was silently protesting that part about it, how the story took a life of its own."
He's also accepted an invitation to visit NASA and interviewed retired astronaut Scott Kelly on an Instagram Live video, saying of his original remarks that he was "honestly, genuinely sorry of how that came across" (h/t Omnisport):
"It was important for me to understand, one, the magnitude of things that I say in my comments, and how much weight they carry, no matter if I am joking or not, but totally honour that in every situation I put myself in.
"The sense of national pride in how that exploration for mankind has pushed boundaries and limits of what is possible, you know, pushed our imagination for what we can accomplish. ... I do not want to in any way, shape or form demean the significant accomplishments that you, and the people you work with on a daily basis, make a reality."
Curry's remarks blew up because they intersected several topical issues and talking points. For one, there appears to be a growing distrust of science, leading to a proliferation of conspiracy theories being taken as fact, from the idea that the earth is flat or the moon landing was staged to the anti-vaxxing movement.
Players like Irving and Curry, harmless and off-hand as they might have felt their comments to be, aligned prominent public figures to those conspiracy theories, lending credence to them.
That raises the question of whether influential athletes have a responsibility to their fans, namely younger ones, to measure their words carefully. Surely, science teachers around the country were flabbergasted and frustrated by the flat earth or moon landing hoax remarks, likely a major factor in both players apologizing for their remarks.