Ten days ago, Kyrie Irving decided to skip his scheduled media availability, and instead issued a statement to ensure that his message was “conveyed properly.” He was ready to compete for a title with the Brooklyn Nets alongside Kevin Durant, but he wasn’t ready to talk to the media after the events of this summer.
Now, at long last, Irving has broken his silence. And somehow, against all odds, the aggrieved columnists and podcasters and radio hosts managed to survive that dark winter to hear him speak again. Following his on-court debut with Durant Sunday — a 119-115 win over the Washington Wizards, in which the duo put up a combined 33 points — Irving met with the media on Monday.
Here’s a look at some of his notable comments:
Irving was fined $25,000 for his initial refusal to speak to the media, and in response issued another statement, which quoted Malcolm X and read, in part:
“I pray we utilize the ‘fine money’ for the marginalized communities in need, especially seeing where our world is presently. [I am] here for Peace, Love, and Greatness. So stop distracting me and my team, and appreciate the Art. We move different over here… I do not talk to Pawns. My attention is worth more.”
On Monday, Irving attempted to smooth things over by explaining he wasn’t directly referring to the media with his “pawns” comment, but was instead making a broader point about protecting his voice and platform.
Earlier this offseason, Irving made headlines when he went on a podcast with Durant and said, “I don’t really see us having a ‘head’ coach. K.D. could be a head coach, I could be a head coach [some days].” Durant, for his part, mostly agreed, saying that the task of leading the team would be a “collaborative effort.”
Now, after their first game, and having a chance to work with Nash in training camp, Irving decided to walk back those statements. “Steve’s been amazing,” Irving said. “He commands the respect. It’s giving us a comfortable space to grow, to communicate. You have a two-time MVP coaching.”
Nash was just as glowing in his praise of Irving last week, telling reporters, “While he may not be in your guys’ good books right now, he’s in my good books. I’m enjoying coaching him. He’s been unbelievable.”
Irving was also asked about the James Harden rumors, which have been swirling for the past month. Harden wants out of Houston, and has made it known that his first-choice trade destination is Brooklyn. But with the Rockets demanding a substantial return for the MVP candidate, the Nets simply can’t put together the requisite package — at least not without including Irving or Durant, which isn’t happening.
Unsurprisingly, Irving deflected, saying, “That part of our business is going to be what it is … James is a great player and we wish him well.”
A report on Monday indicated that Harden is still intent on getting a fresh start, but the Rockets are in no hurry to trade him with two years left on his deal. So unless the Nets and Rockets are able to rope a third team into the deal, we won’t see Harden teaming up with Irving and Durant anytime soon.