Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving did not suit up for the team’s first 35 games, because he refused to take the New York City mandated COVID vaccine. But last month the team reinstated him and will allow him to play home games in the regular season. Although he would have preferred to play in road games in the first half of the season, Irving has no bad blood towards the organization and the decision that they made.
“I just really empathized and understood their choice to say, ‘If you’re not going to be vaccinated, fully vaccinated, then you can’t be a full participant.’ I understood their decision and I respected it,” Irving said to reporters in December per NetsDaily. “I really had to sit back and try not to become too emotionally attached to what they were deciding to do. I had to sit down and really evaluate things and see it from their perspective.”
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Nets James Harden Out With Knee Injury
With the Nets being losers of four out of their last seven games, Irving’s arrival could not have come at a more perfect time. And with Kyrie back in the lineup it seemed as if Nets fans were finally going to consistently see their ‘Big 3’ in action, something that was a rare occurrence last year. Unfortunately, that won’t be the case just yet, as Nets star James Harden has suffered a knee injury per Shams Charania of “The Athletic”.
“Nets‘ James Harden is listed out tonight due to a left knee hyperextension,” Charania tweeted on January 10.
For reference on the severity of the injury, during the 2017 season star forward Kevin Durant suffered a hyperextended knee during his time with the Golden State Warriors. That injury later was discovered to be an MCL sprain that held him out of action for 6 weeks.
Steve Nash Praises Nic Claxton for Steady Improvement
If Harden does indeed end up missing an extended period for the Nets, the area where he will be missed the most is the continued development of their 22-year-old center Nicolas Claxton. Harden has taken the young center under his wing and is starting to transform him into quite the pick and roll threat. Similar to what he did with Atlanta Hawks starting center Clint Capela during his time in Houston.
In the Nets overtime win over the San Antonio Spurs on Sunday, Claxton finished with 16 points and a career-high 14 rebounds. In January Claxton is averaging 13.2 points, 7.6 boards, and shooting over 70 percent from the field.
Nets head coach Steve Nash has noticed Claxton’s steady improvement:
“He’s definitely improving,” said Nash of Claxton’s recent stretch after the win over the Spurs per NetsDaily. “He seems like he has more endurance, can play longer stretches. He’s stronger, He’s much more physical and better around the basket on both ends. He’s better facilitating the offense with his running into actions and his free-throw mechanics are even improving. A lot of growth from Nic and I’m really proud of him.”
With the status of Harden’s health now being uncertain, the Nets have run into yet another roadblock this season. But Brooklyn has persevered through every hardship that they have faced this season. The team is hoping that this one will not be any different.
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