Kyrie Irving is back and played a significant role in helping Brooklyn beat Memphis 127-115.
The former Duke Blue Devil scored 14 points on 5-12 shooting from the field (2-5 from beyond the arc) and grabbed four rebounds. He also finished the night with a +/- of +16. Postgame, Irving said “it felt good” to come back and play with his teammates after missing the last two weeks of action after he posted a controversial movie filled with antisemitic messaging.
“It felt good,” Irving said, per ESPN. “It felt good. I missed my teammates, missed the coaching staff. It felt good to get this game out of the way. Now we can move forward with the rest of the season.”
Defense ➡️ Offense pic.twitter.com/xOUWOFLWAC— Brooklyn Nets (@BrooklynNets) November 21, 2022
When Irving was asked about some of the outside noise coming into the game, including if he would file a grievance regarding his future, Irving said that he was “here to focus on the game” and that he would leave the matter of filing a grievance up to his legal team. Irving serves as a vice president on the players union’s leadership team.
Nets owner Joe Tsai suspended Irving for at least four games after Irving dismissed concerns that the film was anti-semitic, didn’t apologize, or clarify that he was against antisemitism. Irving apologized the same night Tsai suspended him. Tsai later drew criticism after multiple reports came out detailing the six requirements he needed to see Irving fill before he returned. He was further scrutinized when he said Irving “still has work to do.”
Former teammates Jaylen Brown and LeBron James labeled the requirements and comments as “alarming” and “excessive.” Brown later said that Tsia and society had more work to do, and James said that Irving “should be able to play” after he apologized.
That hangtime though pic.twitter.com/WVPH3fg7uL— Brooklyn Nets (@BrooklynNets) November 21, 2022
Regarding the game itself, Irving’s teammates and coaches were happy to have the 30-year-old back on the court. Kevin Durant said the Nets “just want to keep stacking up good days, see what happens.”
“It’s always nice to just focus on the game,” Durant said. “We understand the circumstances around our game now. Our league is getting bigger; there’s so much attention on it, so every little thing might get blown up nowadays; so as much as we can just focus on playing ball and keep growing as a team, I think our fans can get behind that. I think you guys will get behind that as well. So we just want to keep stacking up good days, see what happens.”
Ben Simmons said Irving’s talent makes it “easy to play with him.”
“It’s Kyrie; he’s so talented,” Simmons said. “Obviously, he’s working on the handle again, trying to get a feel for the ball, but he’s so talented it’s easy to play with him.”
Brooklyn will be back in action on Tuesday when they play the 76ers on the road.