With the last NBA season ending months later than usual due to COVID-19, the 2020-21 season began just before Christmas rather than in October. This means all of the preseason activities took place in December, including players’ first media availabilities. And Kyrie Irving apparently wasn’t ready to speak to the media when he was scheduled to.
Instead, he released a statement that some people found controversial. After the controversy blew up on social media and a fine from the NBA, Irving walked back his strong comments.
Kyrie Irving refuses to talk to the media
CBS Sports reports that Irving chose to release a written statement instead of attending his first session with the media because he wanted to make sure his message was “conveyed properly.”
Irving’s initial statement discusses how he was preparing for the season and would let his work “on and off the court speak for itself.” Refusing to do his Zoom session with members of the media led to the NBA issuing a fine to the second-year Net in the amount of $25,000.
Irving criticizes the media?
After receiving the fine, Irving issued a second statement. He wrote that he hopes the fine money is used “for the marginalized communities in need” and advised people to “stop distracting me and my team.” Irving ended the statement by saying “I do not talk to Pawns. My attention is worth more.”
When he spoke to the media for the first time this season, he walked back the “pawns” comment by saying he wasn’t using that word to refer to members of the media. Irving insisted that he was trying to make a broader point about protecting his voice and his platform. Irving was trying to do damage control. But that explanation doesn’t make as much sense as him using the term “pawns” to reference reporters and others.
The Nets’ first preseason game
The Nets acquired Kevin Durant in a trade with the Warriors in 2019. But he missed all of last season with a torn Achilles tendon. That makes this season the first time Irving and Durant are playing together in Brooklyn. People have wondered how the stars would do as teammates, and we witnessed it in the Nets’ first preseason game in mid-December. There was also a question of how Durant would play in his first game action in 18 months. He did about as well as could have been expected.
CBS Sports recaps the contest in which Irving and Durant combined to score 33 points while going 12-for-21 from the field as the Nets beat the Wizards 119-114. For Nets, the Irving-Durant duo combined to outscore the Wizards in the first quarter by themselves. The players didn’t add much offense in their short time on the court in the second half. For the game, Durant was 5-for-12 from the field for 15 points, with three rebounds and three assists; he did go 0-for-2 from the three-point range.
Irving scored 18 points on an 8-of-9 performance, adding four assists and a rebound to a tally. Irving made two of his three shots from long distance. Durant played nearly 24 minutes, and Irving played 17. While those performances look promising for the team, the Wizards’ defense isn’t among the best in the league so that may have played in a role in the performances from the new teammates, and there’s a long season ahead for the Nets.