Nets players who spoke with The Ringer seem unmoved by Irving’s vaccination status. Vaccine holdouts have caused an uproar in corners of the internet, but the Nets themselves don’t seem like a distracted group. Not yet, at least.
“It’s definitely out in the Twitterverse more than it is in our locker room, without a doubt,” Marks says. “All I can tell you is what he’s told everybody: It’s a private matter, and he needs to talk to the right people and figure out in his close circle what he wants to do.”
If Irving remains unvaccinated, the Nets could soon be faced with a decision on whether they'll allow Irving to come and go with the team in and out of New York -- or just keep him sidelined all together, sources said.
Alex Schiffer: Steve Nash said the Nets don't plan to move practice out of their Brooklyn facility, to say...Long Island or New Jersey, in order to get Irving able to join them. "This is our home, this is where we're going to practice."
Ohm Youngmisuk: Kyrie Irving joins Nets media day remotely. On if he expects to be compliant with vaccination to play: “I would love to keep that private and handle that the right way with my team. Obviously I’m not able to be present there today.” He adds he’s not putting limits for future. pic.twitter.com/00fYCtBcNR
Jeff Zillgitt: Reporter tries to get more info from Kyrie Irving on vaccine/possibly not being available for home games per New York City ordinance: "Please respect my privacy. Next question."
Jeff Zillgitt: Kyrie Irving gets another question about being available at Nets home games: "Everything will be released at a due date once we get this cleared up." Continued to ask for privacy on the vaccine/availability topic.
Ohm Youngmisuk: Kyrie Irving said he doesn't want to be a distraction to the Nets' pursuit of a title. "This is the last thing I wanted to create, more distractions."
The Nets got too comfortable. Now they’ve gotten a wake-up call. After losing four in a row, the Nets entered Friday closer to third place than the No. 1 seed Philadelphia 76ers. The No. 2 seed hangs in the balance as the Nets approached Saturday’s matchup against the Denver Nuggets, a Western Conference juggernaut powered by MVP front-runner Nikola Jokic.
The four-game skid marked “uncharted territory” for a team angling for a championship; a bend-or-break inflection point as the Nets continued to battle getting healthy and building chemistry. They welcomed this skid because it gave them something to grow from. “I’m glad it’s happening now for us instead of in a couple weeks, and hopefully we build off of this and keep growing,” Kevin Durant said. “I hope we feel this pain from losing, feeling like we’re not where we want to be. I like this position for us, and I think it’s gonna make us better.”
In their mind, the Nets are already in the playoffs. Iron sharpens iron, and the sharpest metal will win it all this season. “It’s about time we got tested in terms of just having to think the game on a different level, knowing that teams are shaping up for the playoffs,” Kyrie Irving said. “And we’ve done our best to make sure that we’re ready to play, but now we’ve got to think the game going up against some of these good teams, especially on the road. “Stuff happens, but I think it’s good we have those tests now, those challenges, you know? It’s been too easy at times,” Irving continued. “So, it’s good.”
During that tough (to watch) first quarter, James Harden and DeAndre Jordan got into (as Ryan Ruocco so eloquently put it) an “animated” conversation on the bench, likely about defensive rotations. “I don’t even remember it. We talk so much during the game,” said DeAndre when questioned about this specific moment during the post-game presser. “But yeah, we have conversations about defense, offense, spacing, communication. Whatever we’re talking about is for the success of our team.”
As an aside, I’m not going to try to guess as to why Irving left the club prior to their Jan. 7 game against the Sixers. Various reports have stated that he was upset over the riots at the Capitol Building on Jan. 6. However, those familiar with Irving’s thinking said that the news that the Kenosha police officer who shot Jacob Blake won’t be facing any criminal charges factored into his absence. That event, more so than the riots at the Capitol Building, contributed to Irving being away from the club, those people say.
“I think Ky is working really hard mentally to put himself in a great position to perform,” Nash said. “I’m proud of him for the effort he’s making there.”
Irving’s return is an opportunity to show he can adapt his game as a scorer off the ball and dispel any questions about his commitment to his teammates and basketball from outside the organization. “The thing that is pretty interesting in watching when you take a break from everything is there are just so many assumptions about what’s going on, and so manypeople feel like they know me best,” Irving said. “They have no idea who I am, or what I’m about, or what I stand for, or even attempt to take the time, or even for me to invite them to take the time, so it’s a two-way street. When things become overwhelming in life, you’ve just got to take a step back and realize what’s important. I love to play. It’s never been a question. I’ve committed myself when this wasn’t even a thing for me. I didn’t really care about media. I didn’t really care about the fandom. All I cared about was just the ethics of the game and being taught the fundamentals.”
Malika Andrews: Sean Marks said that signing James Harden wasn't directly related to Kyrie Irving's absence. Marks said that he has spoken to Irving and the guard is "excited" to get back on the court, but Marks reiterates the timeline will be impacted by the NBA's investigation.
Vincent Goodwill: I talked to someone earlier today, an executive who knows people who are really close to Kyrie. He told me, "Kyrie is acting like he did his last year in Boston. Where he wasn't he's not talking to guys." He's not necessarily disassociated, but there's a disconnect between himself and his teammates.
Chris Haynes: (The Nets) have not issued a fine, a suspension, basically going AWOL, which leads me to believe that they know something, obviously. And whatever that something is, could be serious. That's why they're not taking any type of penalize steps. So with that being said, I want to wait a little bit. I want to wait to see but it doesn't look good.
Over the last couple days, sources around the league – and talking heads – have all wondered about the possibility of Irving retiring. The bar had been set so low that Durant simply wanting to play and loving basketball was worthy of praise. And the Nets still have to figure out whether Irving is fully invested. After all, as sources confirmed, they’re still upset at his recent actions — including going to a family party in the pandemic. Harden, a model of consistency and durability, still needs to get in better shape, too. He looked like he'd stop trying in Houston, so hopefully this move will reinvigorate him as a superstar scorer and more dependable option — simply by showing up to work. He’s also hungry to finally win a title and join Durant and Irving with a ring.
“I hate to continue with this thread, but I’m not really going to comment on either, the details of the rumors or Kyrie’s situation. I don’t know that it gets us anywhere today. Apologies. Sorry,” said Nash, who also passed on a question about trying to fit high-usage stars like Irving, Harden and Kevin Durant together. “That’s a great hypothetical. We can address that another time. But I haven’t had an opportunity to know any new details about Kyrie’s situation. So I’ll just rely on the front office to learn more as we go. They’re the ones that are going to do the messaging on that front.”
In Wednesday’s edition of First Take, Smith said that the 28-year-old Irving should retire from the NBA. Smith said: “No, he’s not. He’s not worth it at all. As a matter of fact, let me say this straight up and down, I think Kyrie Irving should retire. I think he should announce his retirement today. Clearly you don’t want to play basketball bad enough. Now, you may still want to get the $33.4 million … Kyrie Irving has not prioritized basketball. I’m not saying he doesn’t want to play all together. I’m saying he hasn’t prioritized it. How fair is that to the Brooklyn Nets? How fair is that to Sean Marks? How fair is that to Steve Nash? A coached that he endorsed bringing onboard. A coach that he wanted. A coach that he fully supported. How fair is that to his brother, Kevin Durant?”
There are dozens of reporters calling everybody they can think of, trying to get to the bottom of this. It appears few people inside the NBA know what’s going on with Irving, and the few who probably do (like, Nets officials) aren’t saying. There is real concern throughout the league from people who know him.
It was the latest case of bad optics for Irving, who has missed the last four games and counting due to “personal reasons.” The Brooklyn Nets are upset with their franchise point guard over his recent actions, league sources confirmed. Irving remains out indefinitely.
One NBA agent summed up the latest Kyrie Irving saga this way: “It's one of the most bizarre things I've ever seen.” And for this league, that's saying something.
Marc Stein: The NBA has formally opened a review of videos that appear to show the Nets' Kyrie Irving at a recent party without a mask If Irving misses any games due to what is ruled a protocols violation, he would be subject to a fine of more than $460,000 per game ... 1/72 of his salary
Adrian Wojnarowski: Sources with @Malika_Andrews: As the NBA is expected to begin examining online videos circulating of a maskless Kyrie Irving at a family birthday party, there’s no belief that he will return to the Brooklyn Nets lineup this week.
In the videos -- which began being widely shared Monday night -- a smiling Irving is dancing with his sister Asia on a confetti-covered floor and clapping as she blows out candles. If the video is found to be recent, that behavior could be a breach of the league's coronavirus protocols. The league's COVID-19 guidelines forbid players from going to clubs, bars and lounges. They also ban attending social gatherings of more than 15 people.
“Ky is still on personal leave. All the communication between Ky and the organization I’m going to keep private and I’m sure you’ll hear from him at some point,” Nash said of Irving, who is fourth in the league in scoring (27.1).
Joe Vardon: Kyrie Irving is not expected to join the Nets on their flight to Memphis tonight, per a source. ‘He’s not coming’ is what I was told. BKN plays the Grizzlies Friday @The Athletic
"I'm not going to be petty, but there's been a lot of things said about what I bring to the locker room" Nets guard Kyrie Irving says he has a great relationship with his teammates
"I'm there every day. There has been no issues [with Kyrie]. ... This group has embraced Kyrie, Kyrie has embraced them." — @sarahkustok
Earlier this week, ESPN published a story about Irving, Durant and DeAndre Jordan joining the Nets that reported the team is already concerned over Irving’s moodiness, including an episode in which Irving was quiet and withdrawn while the Nets were in China. Sources close to Irving expressed frustration with the report, especially since he is trying to not make the focus this season about what he says and does when he isn’t on the court.
You want to know Kyrie Irving’s reaction to an ESPN article on his mood swings, and how they’ve left the Nets “queasy?” The star guard doesn’t. Doesn’t give a damn what ESPN or The Post or anybody else writes or thinks or says. He’s going to do him. “Human beings have mood swings. You go home and you’re not happy with things or mad about something, that’s a mood swing. It’s OK to be human,” Irving said Wednesday night. “I don’t have to be perfect for anyone here, nor do I have to be perfect for the public so I’m not here to dispel any perception. I’m just here to be myself.”
It came two days after an ESPN article detailing his mood swings and the worries they are causing the Nets. Coach Kenny Atkinson vehemently denied the article Tuesday at practice and again before Wednesday night’s game. “No, that thing is two things. I’ll double-down, or triple-down on what I said. That’s where I am,” said Atkinson, who added he didn’t feel the need to address Irving about the story. “As far as that, I know all these elite players, not just Kyrie, they’re used to the scrutiny and that’s just part of the business. That’s just what it is. I didn’t feel the need to talk to him about it.”
Asked by Mina Kimes Wednesday about whether Sean Marks and Kenny Atkinson were committed to integrating the two into the Nets culture, MacMullan replied that Marks has a great luxury going forward ... one Atkinson may not have. “Well, I think Sean is determined to do it. You know for him it’s all about communications and trust and that’s what they built their team on. And he’s going to keep plowing away at it. You know Kenny doesn’t have that luxury. He doesn’t have time, right? He’s gotta win games. He’s gotta get these guys on the same page.”
Meanwhile, ESPN’s Jay Williams, speaking with Max Kellerman, said he’d spoken with Marks and that the Nets GM had confirmed one of the key incidents MacMullan mentioned in her story: that Irving had declined to take off his (Nets) cap during a photo shoot atop the Pearl TV Tower in Shanghai. “He did not want to take his hat off,” said Williams. “He did ask them to photoshop that. Bottom line for the ESPN commentator? “Look on the big scale of things, I think this is not a concern. All the players and the team seem to be on same page.”
Kevin Durant has no regrets about joining the Nets, even in the wake of a controversial report that said his pal Kyrie Irving’s “mood swings” are causing Nets officials agita. “Relax mcnabb,” Durant tweeted Tuesday when former NFL quarterback Donovan McNabb mused, “with everything starting to come out with [Kyrie Irving] and the [Nets], when will [Durant] realize maybe I should’ve stayed in Golden State? Boy I’ve seen this happen before.”
Jordan, Irving's close friend, had a lighthearted response when asked about the report. "Kyrie's a bad guy, he's terrible, he's moody, I don't like to be around him," he said, facetiously. Jordan later added: "I feel like we're all competitive, everybody in the world goes through mood swings. It's a part of life and human nature. I just don't think it should be targeted at one person …. It's not affecting our team. I think Kyrie's a great guy, I don't think Kyrie's done anything negative. Anything that I've seen that he's done. And he's a friend of mine. So if he was, I would tell him."
Following Tuesday’s practice, Jordan also had Irving’s back. “I think that Kyrie’s a great guy,” Jordan told reporters. “I don’t think that there’s anything negative that I’ve seen that he’s done. And he’s a friend of mine, so if it was, I would tell him.”
James Herbert: DeAndre, sarcastically: "Kyrie’s a bad guy. He’s terrible. He’s moody. I don’t like to be around him. He’s horrible in the locker room. He’s a selfish player. I don’t like his haircut. I wear his shoes only because they’re comfortable and because he makes me. Is that good?"
Ian Begley: Spencer Dinwiddie was asked about ESPN’s Nets story that stated Kyrie Irving’s mood swings are an unspoken concern among team officials. He said Irving has been great as a teammate and anyone who has those issues should address Irving directly.
There were endless conversations about basketball, including how LeBron James had orchestrated his own "friend group" in Miami with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh that yielded two titles. One of the final nights on the Silver Cloud, as Ky, KD and DJ clinked glasses, Jordan recalls Irving saying, "Hey, this would be cool to do for real." "I asked him, 'What you mean by that?'" Jordan says, "and Ky said, 'Let's all get on the same team and play together.'"
All three initially raised an eyebrow upon learning of Brooklyn's daily routine -- a two-hour time commitment that begins before practice even starts. Players receive a text informing them when their "table time" is scheduled. That includes 30 minutes with a massage therapist, physical therapist, or both, depending on what ails them that day. From there, players spend 30 minutes in the weight room, then move to the court for individual training. "Our whole setup can be a bit rigid," Atkinson says. "We're like a college program, in some ways. We have this car wash of very specific things with very specific people.
Durant says that for most NBA veterans, their training regimen is sacred. It's what reinforces their greatness, and their commitment. "It's going to have to be a give and take," Durant says. "At this point of our careers, we have routines. At the same time, I want to learn what they're about. We have to be willing to meet halfway."
Yet Irving's infamous mood swings, confirmed by his ex-teammates, which followed him from Cleveland to Boston to Brooklyn, are the unspoken concern that makes Nets officials queasy. When Irving lapses into these funks, he often shuts down, unwilling to communicate with the coaching staff, front office and sometimes, even his teammates.
Nets team sources say one such episode occurred during Brooklyn's trip to China, leaving everyone scratching their heads as to what precipitated it. There's hope that Durant will be able to coax his friend into a better frame of mind. But when presented with that scenario, KD says he will be hands off.
There has already been leeway to allow Irving to march to his own drum. The Nets are willing to look past moments like the photo shoot at the Pearl TV Tower in China, when Irving refused to remove his hat and instructed them to photoshop it out. They will focus more on the bigger issue of sharing the ball and maintaining good team chemistry.
Brian Lewis: Brook Lopez: "“I think it’s kind of natural. We’ve gotten a little complacent. Like I’ve been alluding to, it starts with me." #Nets
Losing can get to anyone. With the worst record in the league coming into New Year’s Eve, the Nets have done more losing than just about anybody. So it is not shocking frustrations mounted on the court during Friday’s game at Washington and in the locker room after yet another lopsided defeat. “It was in the locker room. We handled it. It’s important we all have respect for each other and also have the ability to hold each other accountable,’’ Brook Lopez said of the flared tempers, first reported by The Post. “It was just frustrating. It was emotional and a frustrating game, and guys were just venting. I don’t know what was necessarily correct or who said what, but the important thing is it happened.
“I don’t think conflict is bad. I’m not going to have a team meeting because a couple of guys were bickering. I’m a coach who embraces conflict. We have conflict in the video room, and we have brutal ones at times. “The fact they have conflict with each other, it’s not the end of the world. I’m glad they talked about it just like any family would when you get into an argument with your brother, sister or wife. Out of all that, it comes out that we can get better. Those moments of conflicts that can make you better.”
May 18, 2022 | 11:07 am EDT Update
While Doncic is fighting to push the Dallas Mavericks to the next level in the playoffs after triumphing over the Phoenix Suns in the Western Conference semifinals, Real Madrid is back in Belgrade to compete for the “Undecima.” And Blancos coach Pablo Laso broke down what makes his former wunderkind so special.
“Luka has been a great player since he arrived at Real Madrid when he was 13 years old,” Laso said in the opening presser for the EuroLeague Final Four. “But he’s also been a great person since that day. That made him so big. When people talked about the NBA and how he’s going to play there, I didn’t have any doubts. No doubts that he’s going to play good. Because probably the best thing he has a person, and for sure as a player, is that he’s able to adjust in any situation. And that’s something that you have to have as a person. And Luka has it.”
A Mark Cuban and Lil Wayne feud is one of the main storylines of the NBA playoffs? That seems to be the case as the Mavs owner and famous rapper have exchanged NSFW blows with one another on social media. Cuban’s dog in the fight is that he is obviously the owner of the Dallas Mavericks. However, Lil Wayne was cheering for the Suns and is a friend of Chris Paul. Lil Wayne had previously called out Mavs star Luka Doncic during the Suns and Mavs series.
Cuban responded by referencing a lyric from one of Wayne’s albums after Dallas embarrassed Phoenix in Game 7. “It’s a sh*t show, put you front row.” Lil Wayne responded to Mark Cuban with a now deleted Tweet. However, the message read as follows: “Mark Cuban don’t make me get u smacked boy U playing w me?? I will piss in ya fkn mouth ho.”
May 18, 2022 | 10:54 am EDT Update
But even some of Spoelstra’s closest friends had never seen him like that, not just the emotional outburst in the huddle but the dark brooding he did for the rest of that quarter, almost stopping coaching as he managed the fury. For Butler, three seasons’ worth of give-and-take with Spoelstra finally led to finding the line. It wasn’t just that moment with Butler verbally shoving back at his coach; it was a long buildup. “Spo was exasperated,” one team source said.
Even Butler, who sometimes seems to actually enjoy creating conflict on his team, wondered whether this was a breaking point, sources said. Two days later, after Spoelstra missed a game because of an unrelated personal matter, he returned, reset and ready. Butler was relieved, so was the rest of the team, and everyone started over, because at the end of the day and the end of the season, Butler is worth it. What he brings, especially in a playoff setting, buys him more leeway. It’s the NBA way — always has been, and always will be. It’s a little tougher at times for the Heat, an organization that thrives on holding players to high standards and not being afraid to attack problems, but it’s true just the same.