“We Need People Here That Want To Be Here” | Does Kyrie Irving’s Contentious Relationship With Media Fit Brooklyn Nets Culture?

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - APRIL 20: Kyrie Irving #11 of the Brooklyn Nets looks on during the second quarter of Game Two of the Eastern Conference First Round NBA Playoffs against the Boston Celtics at TD Garden on April 20, 2022 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Brooklyn Nets general manager Sean Marks spoke for the first time since the once-believed finals-bound NBA darlings were swept in the first round of the playoffs.

With all speculation hovering around Kyrie Irving’s status as the yin to Kevin Durant’s yang, Marks wasn’t straightforward on Irving’s safety net or his star player’s desire to remain on the team.

Missing The Marks

“Look, I think that’s something we’ve been discussing, and we will continue to debrief on and discuss throughout this offseason,” Marks said. “It’s honestly not just Kyrie; you bring Kyrie up, but we have decisions to make on a variety of different free agents throughout our roster. We haven’t had any of those discussions yet, so it would be unfair for me to comment on how it looks with us and Kyrie because, to be quite frank, he has some decisions to make on his own.
“So he has to look at what he’s going to do with his player option, and so forth like that. But I think we know what we’re looking for. We’re looking for guys that want to come in here and be part of something bigger than themselves. Play selfless, play team basketball and be available, and that goes not only for Kyrie but for everybody here.”

With Irving deciding not to get vaccinated, the Nets questioned motivation and commitment even when the pressure was on full blast from the media and the basketball world. With Ben Simmons being the newest addition to the Nets roster, although injured, there has been a question hovering over his and Irving’s commitment to the sport and the team.

The Last Team Standing

However, Marks did make sure to solidify that, in his opinion, both Irving and Simmons are an integral part of the plan for the Nets to be the last team standing in the postseason.

“I think when you have a player of Kyrie’s caliber, you try and figure out how we get him in the mix and how long can we get him in the mix for, because the team was built around saying, ‘Well, Kyrie and Kevin are going to be available,'” said Marks. “For me to sit back and go, ‘Well, do I regret bringing a player of his caliber back?’ No.”

Irving became the poster child of sticking to your guns even amid the collective disappointment of his team, the borough of Brooklyn, and many of the talking heads that move the needle on daily sports hot takes.

He only played 29 games of the regular season and couldn’t push his team deeper into the playoffs or even win against the Boston Celtics in their first-round sweep.

Irving’s Perspective

Irving revealed recently on the “Boardroom” podcast that he never felt 100 percent upon his return and the lack of play threw him off, to the team’s detriment.

“I never felt like myself throughout the season because I’m usually sustaining a level of growth throughout the year instead of trying to catch up with everybody that’s been playing for four or five months,” Irving said.
“When we got into training camp in San Diego, I was not expecting a mandate to be brought down that was not going to let me play at all.”

The fall has been steep for the Nets, and now Marks is looking at the business decisions he has to make with a careful eye on how Kyrie Irving wishes to approach the game of basketball from this point on.

Rhett Butler is a Boxing Writer Association of America Journalist, Play-By-Play Commentator, Combat Sports Insider, and Former Mixed Martial Arts and Boxing Promoter. The New York City native honed his skills at various news outlets including but not limited to: TIME Magazine, Money Magazine, CNN's Wolf Blitzer Reports, and more. Rhett hosts the PRITTY Left Hook podcast, a polarizing combat sports insider's take featuring the world's biggest names.