Kyrie Irving lasted just one minute in his Brooklyn Nets debut before reaggravating an injury to his face. Although the point guard was already wearing a mask for protection, he and the Nets must be careful moving forward to avoid further damage. The team is already missing one of its two major offseason acquisitions, so they can’t afford to put Irving in danger.
Kyrie Irving’s injury
The 27-year-old first suffered the injury during a pickup game in September. But the reaggravation occurred when he bumped into Lakers point guard Rajon Rondo. Although Irving will be ready for the season, the facial trauma highlights a history of similar injuries he’s experienced throughout his career.
It may not be the same as a knee or an ankle, but a facial fracture can be an enormous nuisance. The improper handling of it can cause damage that takes longer to heal and keeps players off the court. Irving’s fracture, in particular, is on the left side of his face. Fortunately for Brooklyn fans, he should be good to go for the Nets’ season-opener, despite his history with this kind of injury.
Irving’s masked history
Kyrie Irving first played with a mask in 2012 after breaking his jaw in a game against the Milwaukee Bucks. In his first game back from the injury, he debuted his mask during a monster performance where he put up 41 points at Madison Square Garden. He had to wear the mask for several games after the event, but it clearly didn’t affect his game.
Irving also had to wear a mask starting on November 14, 2018, when former teammate Aron Baynes elbowed him while trying to block then-Hornets guard Kemba Walker. According to Irving, he was hit before the game even started, not by a teammate or an opponent, but by his infant daughter.
While these injuries may not be related, one comforting is that Irving knows how to play with a mask. The Nets need the point guard in as many games as possible. Although they had one of the most successful offseasons in the NBA, the first year of their new look will be an interesting one.
The Nets’ future with Irving
Kevin Durant will already miss the entire season after tearing his Achilles during the NBA finals. The Nets are banking on him being able to return for the 2020 season and playing almost as well as he did before the injuries. Time will tell whether he can do it, and Brooklyn must worry about their immediate future, too.
The Nets were an exciting, young team last year. Despite a run into the playoffs, they allowed their young All-Star D’Angelo Russell to go to the Warriors after agreeing to a trade facilitating Durant’s departure. Irving will be the Nets’ leader this year, and if the team wants to get the most out of the offseason, they must begin their growth this year — meaning Irving needs to stay healthy.
Irving has had injury woes dating back to college when he barely played in his only season at Duke. Some already question his leadership following reports about his final year in Boston, but the Nets put a vote of faith in Irving with his deal. One of the best point guards in the NBA, he has experienced some truly unlucky injuries in the past.
If Irving can stay on the court and build a new culture in Brooklyn, things will only look up when Durant enters Barclays Center the following year.