Kyrie Irving is officially outside.
The Brooklyn Nets star returned to practice for the first time since the preseason. Irving spilled his thoughts on the team’s decision to follow New York City’s COVID-19 mandates.
On Wednesday, Irving spoke to the media from the Nets’ practice facility in Brooklyn.
“I understood their decision and respected it,” Irving said. “I really had to sit back and think and try not to become too emotionally attached to what they were deciding to do. I had to really evaluate things and see it from their perspective, meaning the organization, my teammates.
“I really empathized and I understood their choice to say if you are not going to be fully vaccinated, then you can’t be a full [participant].”
This was the first time he spoke since his first comments on Oct. 13.
Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and LaMarcus Aldridge have cleared the league’s health and safety protocols pic.twitter.com/knAKT8cb9m
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) December 28, 2021
Back In The Mix
However, coach Steve Nash knows that the pressure is on Irving to catch up before playing in a road game. He sees the timeline as a week to two weeks.
“I’ve missed so much time,” Irving said. “It’s my first day back around the block with the guys and it felt like it’s been a long time. It’s only been, what, three months or so. But it has felt like the days have been slowly crossed off the calendar while I am sitting at home. When I thought about [returning to practice] last night, I could barely sleep.”
Views from Kyrie Irving's first Nets practice of the season: pic.twitter.com/78WMIsCw3h
— Alec Sturm (@Alec_Sturm) December 30, 2021
In early October, Irving practiced with the team for a week in San Diego. It was the last time Irving had been with the Nets regularly. However, since New York City mandated that players get vaccinated to play at the Barclays Center, the Nets decided to deny Irving road games and practices in October.
Kyrie Irving is back. 👀
— Hoop Central (@TheHoopCentral) December 29, 2021
“I knew the consequences. I wasn’t prepared for them by no stretch of the imagination. Coming into the season, I had my thought process on being a full-time teammate and just going out and have fun and provide a great brand of basketball. But unfortunately it didn’t happen like that. Things happen for a reason. We are here and I am just grateful for this.”
Then the latest COVID-19 outbreak ravaged the NBA. The Brooklyn Nets had up to 10 players in health and safety protocols at once, and last week, Brooklyn had three games postponed.
The team has decided to pull out all the stops to stay in contention and brought back the point guard for road games. On Dec. 18, Irving went into health and safety protocols, and Irving, Kevin Durant and, LaMarcus Aldridge were cleared by Tuesday and at practice on Wednesday.
Attitude Of Gratitude
“Incredibly grateful just to be back in the building,” Irving said. “Welcomed back with open arms [from] my teammates, the whole organization. Not gonna lie, it has been relatively tough to watch from the sideline with everything going on in the world. I know everybody is feeling it [COVID]. Just praying for everybody to be healthy during these times. If I get the opportunity to get on the court and play with my teammates, even if it is just on the road for away games, I am grateful for the opportunity.
“A lot of uncertainty; a lot of what-ifs. A lot of scenarios. It is hard not to pay attention to what is being said about the circumstances that we are under and everybody’s opinion on that. I tried to stay grounded and connected with the team, engaged and waiting for the time or the chance when things kind of settled down.
“I don’t even know if settled down is the right phrase to be using with everybody testing positive and just what’s going on [around the NBA].”
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