The Brooklyn Nets have officially ruled Kyrie Irving out for their looming Friday match-up against the Memphis Grizzlies.
Irving sat out of Brooklyn’s 122-109 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers on Thursday night, and multiple reports at the time suggested that he would not travel with the team for the second leg of their back-to-back. As such, him being ruled out of Friday’s game should come as no surprise.
That said, the reason for Irving’s continued absence has been the subject of much debate.
Late Thursday, Brandon ‘Scoop B’ Robinson of Heavy.com reported that the Nets guard didn’t participate in Philly game because he “didn’t want to play.”
Kyrie Irving’s reasoning for not playing in tonight’s game per a close source: “I just didn’t want to play.”
— 👑📍Brandon ‘Scoop B’ Robinson, M.A. (@ScoopB) January 8, 2021
Naturally, that didn’t sit well with some fans. Later in the evening, Nets head coach Steve Nash pushed back on the idea that Irving simply opted out of playing for no real reason.
“I don’t believe that to be the case,” Nash said on a zoom call with the media.
So what really happened? Robinson eventually provided some context for his original tweet that shined a light on Irving’s rationale for sitting out and provided clarity on what his thought process was.
Kyrie Irving took a mental health day yesterday vs. 76ers. He was well within his right to do so, too.
He works for a company, a large one…BUT he’s allowed to do so. And to be honest: after the last few days we could use one too!
— Brandon ‘Scoop B’ Robinson, M.A. (@ScoopB) January 8, 2021
Nets insider Anthony Puccio seemingly confirmed Robinson’s assessment of the situation.
“One source close to Irving’s camp told The Association that Irving did not play because he is protesting against the riots at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, and the lack of repercussions for the police officers who shot and killed Breonna Taylor.”
On a Zoom call with the media, Brooklyn swingman Caris LeVert also seemed to corroborate that the reason for Irving’s absence was related to him processing what’s going on in the world.
“That’s a personal issue for him,” LeVert said.
The Bucks owner’s daughter decided to bring 2021 in with a bang by stripping all her clothes off. https://t.co/UgzhEEna4o
— Game 7 (@game7__) January 7, 2021
“We support him, You know, he’s our brother. We went out there and competed without him. Like I said, it was a personal issue for him.”
As was made clear by his assessment of Becky Hammon last week, Irving is widely regarded as one of the most free-thinking and unique players in the NBA today — so his reaction to objectively significant world events shouldn’t come as much of a shock.
By all accounts, Nets players have and continue to stand behind Irving, so it’s unlikely that his missed time will cause any significant issues within the organization.