Sports

Brooklyn Nets’ Kyrie Irving ‘grateful I got a chance to be out there with my brothers’ after Barclays Center season debut


NEW YORK — Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving made his dwelling debut Sunday evening throughout a 119-110 loss to the Charlotte Hornets — making it clear that he believes his presence on the ground represents one thing a lot bigger than a basketball participant.

“I was just trying to ground myself as much as possible today,” Irving mentioned. “And just prepare for the warm reception from a lot of supporters of the organization, of me, just the journey thus far. So I don’t take it for granted what happened tonight; it was historic. I’m grateful I got a chance to be out there with my brothers and just leave it all out there.”

Irving, who will not be vaccinated in opposition to COVID-19, had not been capable of play at dwelling all season due to New York Metropolis’s non-public employer mandate. New York Metropolis Mayor Eric Adams rolled again that mandate final week for athletes and performers, permitting Irving to make his dwelling debut on Sunday.

The 30-year-old former All-Star bought a giant ovation from the sold-out crowd, the biggest in Barclays Center historical past at 18,166, after being launched within the beginning lineup. Simply earlier than tipoff, he walked to heart courtroom and pointed across the area to acknowledge the reception he bought from the Brooklyn followers.

“Tonight my presence out there was just bigger than the basketball game,” Irving mentioned. “I was just representing a lot of individuals that are out there in a similar situation as me. And now that I can play, I think we should be opened up for everybody.”

Irving struggled to discover a rhythm all evening, ending simply 6-for-22 from the sector in virtually 41 minutes on the second evening of a back-to-back. He had 16 factors and 11 assists however was simply 1-for-9 from past the arc.

“It was great to see him out there,” Nets star Kevin Durant mentioned. “Good to see the fans excited for him. Unfortunately, we took the L, though, but we move forward knowing that we have him here. Build on what we have and try to get a win next game.”

After being requested how he needed his stance in opposition to taking the vaccine to be remembered, Irving spoke passionately for over two minutes about how he felt he was standing up for extra individuals than simply himself.

“I made it very clear it was never just about me,” Irving mentioned. “I think for my own legacy, that’s to be written by all those that I impact and all those that impact me and it’s far bigger than just a basketball game, but when I’m in this locker room I get a chance to perform with a bunch of guys that are selfless and are sacrificing just as much as I am. It makes it worthwhile. …

“The purpose of this season for me was by no means to simply take a stand. It was actually to guarantee that I am standing on what I consider in, in freedom. Freedom. I do not suppose that is a phrase that will get outlined sufficient in our society. In regards to the freedom to make decisions together with your life with out somebody telling you what the f— to do.”

The Nets originally decided before the season that they did not want Irving as a part-time player but they reversed course in December after a COVID-19 outbreak ravaged the team. Irving made his season debut on Jan. 5 in a win over the Indiana Pacers. Sunday marked his first game inside Barclays Center since Game 2 of the Eastern Conference semifinals against the Milwaukee Bucks on June 7, 2021.

“I am standing for freedom,” Irving said. “In order that’s in all aspects of my life. There’s no person that is enslaving me, there’s no person that is telling me what I’ll do with my life, and that is simply the way in which I’m. If I get tarnished by way of my picture, and other people attempt to slander my identify repeatedly, these aren’t issues that I overlook. I have never forgotten something that anyone mentioned. I do not learn every thing, however I undoubtedly learn some issues that put my household’s identify in a sure place that I consider are unfair.

“I’ve been discriminated against. People have said things that have been biased. They’ve gone against their own morals. And where we’re living today, I have such a strong moral code, of just being honest, being truthful, following God’s guidance, and just living with the results. But in terms of that, I’m a servant. I’m comfortable being in that position.”

The loss to the Hornets dropped the Nets, now 39-36, into ninth place within the Japanese Convention. They do not have the tiebreaker in opposition to Charlotte however do have a good schedule within the last two weeks of the season with 5 of their final seven video games in opposition to groups at or under the .500 mark.

Regardless of the loss, Irving discovered consolation in the truth that he was again on the ground in a spot he hadn’t performed in virtually a yr.

“Not the result we wanted,” Irving mentioned. “I didn’t shoot as well as I wanted. Basically none of the things I had hoped for going well tonight, it just didn’t happen. And that’s just the flow of basketball. Mentally, physically, emotionally, spiritually, it felt OK, but just the jump shot wasn’t falling tonight. We weren’t hitting shots. So not the result we wanted, but definitely grateful that we were part of history tonight and I got to do it here.”



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