Brooklyn Nets React to NBA-China Controversy

Kyrie Irving, Nets

Getty Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving

The Brooklyn Nets are back on American soil.

The team spoke to the media after practice on Wednesday as new details continue to emerge about the days and hours leading up to the team’s preseason opener in China, marred by a politically charged tweet from Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey.

Morey has not yet been fined or suspended for his tweet about the Hong Kong protests, something that Los Angeles Lakers star Lebron James suggested would of happened if Morey was a player and not an executive.

Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson sidestepped the issue, telling reporters that his team was a little fatigued from the trip, but declined to comment on the political matters.

Caris LeVert took a different approach, admitting it was “difficult to ignore everything that was happening”.  LeVert also felt the trip was a good experience for team bonding but there was a point where he thought the games might be cancelled.

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Behind Closed Doors in China

Details are also starting to emerge about a closed-door players-only meeting with NBA Commissioner Adam Silver the day before the preseason game in China. During the meeting, Silver solicited feedback from the players about whether or not they felt the game should be played.  Kyrie Irving’s response has garnered the most attention thus far. According to a report from ESPN’s Dave McMenamin, the Nets star guard “questioned whether it was worth playing the games in such a charged environment”.

The report stated that Irving was also upset about “dealing with the fallout Morey’s tweet created” and went on to add that “he would rather not play at all”.

Irving’s opinion proved to be the minority, as the teams went ahead with both games in China. McMenamin’s report added that Lebron James also had an influential voice in the room. The four-time league MVP “told the room that he wanted both teams in total agreement on how they would approach the rest of the trip”.

The Nets were also aided by the support of their owner during their time abroad. Joe Tsai was with the team throughout the trip and the players made note of his presence. Joe Harris mentioned that Tsai was “with us the whole week” and held numerous events and dinners throughout the trip.

Kyrie Irving Speaks Out

Some Nets players were surprised at the reaction to Kyrie Irving’s opinion.  Joe Harris believes “everybody is making a big deal about” Kyrie’s role in the meeting with Commissioner Silver. “What happened was internal and didn’t have anything to do with the politics of the situation. it was more just focused on getting ready for the games.

Irving only saw about one minute of game action in the preseason opener in China against the Los Angeles Lakers before re-injuring his face. The injury is not serious and Irving is expected to appear in the Nets next preseason game on Friday against the defending NBA champion Toronto Raptors.

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