“That is completely false,” Atkinson told reporters on Tuesday. “Strictly speaking in my observations in my experiences with him so far.”
Atkinson went on to say Kyrie’s spirit with the team has been “great.”
Earlier in the day, ESPN’s Jackie McMullen reported that “when Irving lapses into these funks, he often shuts down, unwilling to communicate with the coaching staff, front office and, sometimes, even his teammates.”
Despite a 1-2 start and questions abound on defense, Irving remains a bright spot for Brooklyn. Kyrie put together a near-flawless effort on offense in Sunday’s loss 134-133 overtime loss to the Grizzlies pouring in 37 points.
The Nets will next play on Wednesday in Brooklyn against the Indiana Pacers. Irving is looking to continue his hot start.
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Teammates Defend Kyrie
Longtime friend and now teammate Kevin Durant has acknowledged Irving’s fragile mental state. KD has also said he will take a passive approach with handling Kyrie’s mood.
“I look at Kyrie as somebody who is an artist,” Durant told McMullen. “You have to leave him alone. You know what he’ll bring to the table every night because he cares so much about the game. Now, it might not be how other people want him to care about it. He has his way of doing things. I respect who he is and what he does. He has all the intangibles you want in a teammate and a great player. So, how he gets to the point to be ready for 7:30 every night, I’m supporting him 100 percent.”
According to The Athletic’s Alex Schiffer, other Nets teammates have also chimed in on Kyrie’s mood swings.
“DeAndre Jordan joins the Kyrie Irving defenders and said he hasn’t seen Irving do anything negative to the team,” Schiffer reported. “If he had/would, Jordan would speak up to him on it as his friend and teammate.”
Right after the final buzzer sounded, Kyrie ran over to the sidelines to embrace his father. The two exchanged hugs and Kyrie gave him the shirt right off his back. The moment was captured on camera and aired on the TV broadcast.
Perhaps the proximity to Irving’s father can also help stave off his frequent mood swings. Irving is from West Orange, New Jersey and grew up watching the Nets as a kid. He has said on multiple occasions that the Nets are his hometown team.
Follow Jared Smith on Twitter: @jaredleesmith