Kyrie Irving only played 29 games for the Brooklyn Nets in the 2021-22 season after refusing to get the New York City mandated COVID-19 vaccination. He has yet to play a full season for the Nets since his arrival in 2019. Irving’s reoccurring absences, in addition, the Nets’ lack of on-court success, have all been factors in Brooklyn’s reluctance to offer him a long-term extension.
On June 20, Shams Charania of “The Athletic” reported that Irving and the Nets have hit an “impasse” in contract talks, clearing the way for the All-Star guard to hit the free-agent market. To add insult to injury, famed ESPN analyst Stephen A. Smith revealed a story, that the Nets point guard would hold private practices after team practices, going behind head coach Steve Nash’s back.
“And [Kyrie Irving] thinks that he deserves a four-year extension, fully loaded on top of the $36.5 million. I mean what nerve, what gal. Talk about delusional, I mean that’s this dude, that’s Kyrie Irving…Did you know that this brother right here Kyrie Irving, would conduct his own practices,” Smith said during the June 20 episode of “First Take”.
“So, Steve Nash had the team on the floor practicing. They would finish and he’d go and get five guys and conduct his own practice! Do you have any idea how disrespectful that is to the players, you know how disrespectful that is to Steve Nash. He conducted his own practices after Steve Nash conducted a practice.”
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The Nash Era in Brooklyn Got off To Rough Start
Kyrie and Kevin Durant made it clear that Nash was the coach that they wanted because he gave them the best opportunity to win a title. But Nash’s tenure got off to a rough start. Before the start of the 2021 season, Irving did an interview where he said he felt that the Nets did not have a head coach after Nash had been hired.
“I was the first … well, he said I was the first person to call him Coach Nash, but I call him Steve. Steve is great, and I have a relationship with him that’s going to build over time, bro,” Irving said to Durant on “The ETCs” in October 2021.
“I think it’s also going to change the way we see coaches. I don’t really see us having a head coach. You know what I mean? KD could be a head coach. I could be a head coach.”
Hall of Famer Slams Kyrie for Comments About Nash
Irving’s comments were to the disdain of many, including Hall of Fame point guard Gary Payton who called Irving’s comments ‘a shame’ during an appearance on “Nothing Personal” with David Samson.
“That’s just a shame right there. I think that that was a bad statement by him. You should respect the coaches, you should respect the guys that have been put in those positions,” Payton said.
“And if you want to be that guy, if you were a guy that was my superstar, and you come to me, and you perform on the floor and do the things on the floor that you are supposed to, then I’m gonna bring you in on everything I’m gonna do, anyway. Because I wanna keep you happy and keep my team happy.”
Irving’s time with the Nets has been up and down in the last three years. It will be interesting to see if he and the franchise can get back on the right track.