While winning is said to be the cure for everything, the Brooklyn Nets might have a collective sick feeling despite a convincing victory. Kyrie Irving was a no-show for a game just three weeks into the NBA season. Some think the fault rests with Donald Trump. But the Nets have no one to blame but themselves if their costly decision to pair Irving with Kevin Durant fails.
Kyrie Irving’s absence is being tied to Donald Trump
The Brooklyn Nets could have gone through the motions for the game against the Philadelphia 76ers on Jan. 7, 2021. With Kevin Durant already unavailable and the unexpected absence of Kyrie Irving, the Nets should have been outmanned by the 76ers. Instead, Joe Harris stepped up with 28 points to help Brooklyn score a 122-109 victory. Caris LeVert chipped in with 22 points, 10 assists, and seven rebounds.
However, everything related to the game was overshadowed by Kyrie Irving not being present. The official explanation was that Irving’s absence was tied to “personal reasons.” Coach Steve Nash said after the game that he had not spoken to Irving and didn’t know the specifics behind Irving not making it to Barclays Center.
LeVert said Irving texted teammates earlier in the day and that they supported him. The Nets announced after the game that Irving would not be traveling with the team for their Jan. 8 game against the Memphis Grizzlies.
The Heavy, citing a source close to Irving, said the point guard was upset over Wednesday’s astonishing siege of the Capitol in Washington, D.C., by Donald Trump supporters a day earlier. Bay Area TV station KRON aired similar information.
The Brooklyn Nets invested heavily in Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant
The Brooklyn Nets have some momentum in the new NBA season, winning two straight now without Kevin Durant to improve to 5-4. Durant has been forced to sit due to a contact-tracing quarantine under the league’s COVID-19 policy, but he could be back as early as Jan. 10. Guard Tyler Johnson is also unavailable for now under the health and safety protocols, and Brooklyn is playing without Spencer Dinwiddie following his ACL injury and surgery.
Winning against the Philadelphia 76ers without the two biggest names on their roster was nice, but the Nets must be craving a return to normalcy to reap the benefit of the $300 million they have invested in Durant and Irving.
The Nets knew before landing Durant in a sign-and-trade with the Golden State Warriors in July 2019 that he would have to miss last season while recovering from a leg injury. The return on their $164,255,700 investment over four years thus far has been just six appearances, but they can still feel confident there is plenty of productivity to come in the next two-plus seasons.
Every passing day, however, makes it feel as though they shouldn’t be as confident in Irving.
The warning signs were already there for the Brooklyn Nets
Kyrie Irving left the Boston Celtics as a free agent and signed with the Brooklyn Nets in July 2019 for $136,490,600 over four seasons. He was shelved by a shoulder injury in November 2019 after just 11 games and then shut down on Feb. 1, 2020, after 20 appearances for the year.
Injuries are a fact of life in sports, and Irving had shown durability before last season. Still, there have been warning signs for the Nets that they have a risky investment on their hands for the remainder of their guard’s contract.
As noted by CBS Sports, Irving was not particularly liked by teammates during his time with the Boston Celtics – and that came after he all but forced his divorce from the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Late last spring, Irving was a divisive figure within the union in his role as a vice president while players were wrestling both with the roadmap for resuming play following the COVID-19 shutdown and how to best be heard as part of the social justice movement following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
More recently, Irving belittled the media, referring to reporters as “pawns” and refusing to do interviews last month. The behavior cost Irving and his team $25,000 apiece.
If Irving was triggered this week by the actions of Donald Trump supporters, causing him to miss work while everyone else in the NBA showed up, then the Nets have yet another reason to worry that they have made an expensive mistake.