“In my heart, I knew I always wanted to play at home,” the billboard read.
The star guard shunned the hometown Knicks during the offseason, opting instead to sign a max contract with the Brooklyn Nets. Irving is a native of West Orange, New Jersey and has repeatedly said that the New Jersey Nets are his actual hometown team. The Nets played 35 seasons in the Garden State before relocating to Brooklyn in 2012.
Irving has been lighting up the NBA in his first season with the Nets. Through his first seven games, Kyrie is averaging 31.7 points, 6.1 rebounds, and 7.7 assists. He has also shown remarkable chemistry with fellow guards Caris LeVert and Joe Harris and has fully taken on a leadership role with the team.
This particular billboard was not created by the Nets. It’s an ad campaign for Nike, centered around Irving’s return to the New York City Metropolitan area.
Irving went off for 39 points and nine assists as the Nets defeated the New Orleans Pelicans 135-125 on Monday night at Barclays Center. Brooklyn has started the season with a 3-4 record as they continue to improve with a new-look roster, led by Kyrie.
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What Will James Dolan Do?
The thin-skinned Knicks owner has gotten upset in the past about Brooklyn invading enemy territory. In 2010, Dolan complained about a giant billboard of Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov that was on display near Madison Square Garden, according to the New York Post.
According to several sources, Dolan was furious about the 22-story, 21,375 square-foot billboard and called league officials to complain, a tactic he repeated last year after Prokhorov referred to him as “that little man” in a New York Magazine article.
Earlier this summer, a business reporter was ejected from a concert where Dolan’s blues band, JD & the Straight Shot, was the headline act.
“He was not happy that a reporter had come to see his show,” Bloomberg Businessweek reporter Polly Mosendz wrote. “He said he hadn’t authorized an interview and that I wasn’t allowed to be there, despite this being a public show in a public venue. At one point, he flipped my notebook closed.”
According to the New York Post, Dolan declined to comment about a story Businessweek was doing about his tenure as owner of the Knicks. Mosendz paid for her own ticket to Dolan’s show so she could add a paragraph about the band and add context to the larger feature story.
When Mosendz approached Dolan before his performance, he had her quickly removed but insisting that “since his music was not about the team, it should not be included in the article.”
Follow Jared Smith on Twitter: @jaredleesmith