As Kyrie Irving’s indefinite suspension from the Brooklyn Nets has stretched to seven games, former teammate LeBron James has stood up for him, leading some to believe he’s floating the idea of playing with Irving again.
ESPN’s Zach Lowe suggested that James’ comments could be part of a bigger plan, saying people around the league believe LeBron was “opening the door” to a Hollywood reunion with his former teammate.
“Look, I don’t know why LeBron said what he said about Kyrie yesterday about how it’s time to bring him back in the league. Maybe he just said it because he believes, and there’s nothing else to it,” Lowe said on the November 11 episode of his “The Lowe Post” podcast.
James and Irving won an NBA title together in 2016 with the Cleveland Cavaliers. They would stick together for one more season, reaching the NBA Finals but losing 4-1 to the Golden State Warriors.
“I can tell you: Around the league and even within the Lakers — some corners of it — those comments were read as LeBron opening the door to [a trade],” Lowe said. “At least opening the door to, ‘Hey, if you all are comfortable with it — and all the blowback it would be — and the Nets are willing to just get out of the business now of Kyrie Irving so we can get him for much cheaper, not both picks, maybe one pick.’”
LeBron James: Irving ‘Should Be Able to Play’
James initially spoke out against Irving’s decision in late October to promote on social media a 2018 film that contained antisemitic tropes. However, on November 10, he tweeted that Irving had served the punishment handed down by Nets owner Joe Tsai.
“Kyrie apologized, and he should be able to play. That’s what I think. It’s that simple. Help him learn- but he should be playing,” James tweeted. “What he’s asked to do to get back on the floor, I think is excessive [in my opinion]. He’s not the person that’s being portrayed of him.”
The Nets suspended Irving for at least five games on November 4, a few hours before he apologized publicly. Despite the apology, the Nets required him to complete a list of tasks of atonement before being eligible to return, according to a November 5 report from The Athletic’s Shams Charania.
As of November 15, Irving had missed seven games. He was not expected to rejoin the Nets during their West Coast road trip, which starts November 17 against the Portland Trail Blazers.
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Celtics Star Calls Out Tsai for Irving Comments
When Brian Lewis of The New York Post asked Tsai when Irving could potentially return to the lineup, Tsai said Kyrie still had “work to do,” according to a November 12 tweet by Lewis.
Boston Celtics star Jaylen Brown described Tsai’s response as “alarming.”
“His response was alarming to me; I tweeted that out [Sunday]. He didn’t say that the organization was working together to get Kyrie back on the floor. He said that he had more work to do,” Brown said.
“And our society has more work to do, including Joe Tsai,” Brown told reporters on November 15. “It’s 2022. It takes 10 minutes of time to see who these business owners, corporations … who they’re associated with and who they’re doing business with, who they’re affiliated with.”