One of the most polarizing players in NBA history, Irving is currently away from the Nets for personal reasons, and the franchise doesn’t know when the All-Star point guard will return to the team. Smith, a die-hard New York Knicks fan, gave Irving some career advice on Wednesday’s edition of “First Take” on ESPN, and it quickly became a viral moment.
Kyrie Irving has only played in 27 games with the Nets since 2019
Kyrie Irving signed a four-year contract with the Nets in the summer of 2019 worth $136.5 million. However, Uncle Drew has only appeared in 27 games with Brooklyn since signing that monster deal.
During the 2019-20 season, Irving played in 20 games before undergoing season-ending surgery. He finished his first campaign with the Nets averaging 27.4 points and 6.4 assists while shooting 47.8% from the field and 39.4% from beyond the arc. Without Irving and Kevin Durant in the lineup, the Nets got swept by the Toronto Raptors in the first round of the 2020 playoffs at Walt Disney World in the NBA bubble.
The Nets are expected to compete for the championship this season since both Durant and Irving are healthy. Brooklyn won its first two games of the season against the Golden State Warriors and Boston Celtics, and the mood in Brooklyn was promising.
However, that honeymoon period was short-lived.
Kyrie Irving was on a Zoom call while the Nets were playing the Nuggets
While the Nets played the Denver Nuggets on Tuesday at home, Kyrie Irving was on a New York District Attorney’s Zoom call. It’s evident that basketball is the last thing on Irving’s mind at the moment.
Brooklyn defeated Denver behind 34 points from Kevin Durant to improve to 6-6 on the season. However, all anyone could think about is how Irving wasn’t playing in the game and was on a Zoom call instead. It wasn’t the best look for Kyrie, whose reputation around the NBA continues to take a drastic hit.
Nets head coach Steve Nash told reporters he doesn’t know when Irving will play again this season. The former Rookie of the Year hasn’t released a statement on his absence, which has put Nash and the Nets in a tough spot. The NBA is currently investigating Irving to determine if he violated the NBA’s COVID-19 guidelines. The Nets superstar was seen partying at a club for his sister’s 30th birthday.
People who are close to Irving are concerned about him since it appears he no longer loves basketball. With that being said, Stephen A. Smith didn’t hold back on Wednesday’s edition of “First Take” when he was asked to discuss if Kyrie is worth the trouble for the Nets.
Stephen A. Smith says Kyrie should retire from the NBA
Stephen A. Smith got right to the point on the Kyrie Irving matter, stating that he believes the one-time champion should retire from the NBA. The ESPN personality says Irving doesn’t care about basketball right now and shouldn’t be employed by the Nets since he’s not honoring his contract.
It’s worth mentioning that Irving said back in 2017 that one of his friends told him he’d be the “Lauryn Hill of the NBA” and retire early. It’s going to be fascinating to see if one of the most exciting players in the league decides to walk away from the game during his prime.
Stats courtesy of Basketball Reference.