Kyrie Irving is viewed by many as an extremely talented NBA player. However, there were several reasons to question his leadership skills after seeing how last season went for the Boston Celtics.
Irving signed with the Brooklyn Nets in free agency as part of a package deal with Kevin Durant (and DeAndre Jordan!). There was already talk in October about the team having some frustration with the guard’s “mood swings.”
Stephen A. Smith said on “First Take” that he is “not hearing good things” about Kyrie in Brooklyn. He said it has to do with an “attitude perspective.” Smith did not add more than that.
— First Take (@FirstTake) November 21, 2019
Irving more or less confirmed the mood swings report, saying that he doesn’t have to be perfect.
There was talk before free agency that the Nets had reservations about signing Irving unless he was part of a package deal that brought them someone else. The Nets are 6-8 so far this season.
Irving is averaging 28.5 points, 5.4 rebounds and 7.2 assists per game this season, which all mark career-high stats for the 2011 No. 1 overall pick.
It took less than four months and a handful of games for Kyrie Irving to attract negative media attention as a member of the Brooklyn Nets, but the star point guard insists he remains as indifferent as ever about how the public perceives him.
Earlier in the week, ESPN’s Jackie MacMullan reported that there have already been moments when Nets officials expressed concern about Irving’s “infamous mood swings.” Irving initially refused to address the piece, but he decided to speak about it following Brooklyn’s loss to the Indiana Pacers on Wednesday night.
“I don’t have to be perfect for anyone here, nor do I have to be perfect for the public,” Irving said, per ESPN’s Malika Andrews. “I am not here to dispel any perception, I am here to be myself.
“Who cares what ESPN or anyone says? I love myself. I love my family. I love my friends. I love playing basketball.”
Andrews noted that it was difficult to follow what point Irving was trying to make while he spoke with reporters, which is something that become a common theme during his two seasons with the Boston Celtics. When discussing MacMullan’s story, he said it is “hilarious to me to watch it affect people emotionally.”
“It is just interesting to watch it unfold to see how it can affect everyone around you, yet no one asked me,” Irving said. “Until everyone said something about it. Then they watched it trickle in like a little wild fire, like, ‘Who is Kyrie now?'”
Like many NBA superstars, Irving has a reputation for being difficult to work with. We heard similar stories about him during his time in Boston, and the Nets obviously knew what they were getting when they signed him.
While the Nets have gotten off to a 1-3 start, Irving scored 28 points on Wednesday and is averaging an eye-popping 35.3 per game through the early stretch. With Kevin Durant not expected to play until next season, it would be hard to envision any drastic changes coming in Brooklyn this year. However, it is certainly noteworthy if the Nets’ brass is already getting annoyed with Irving.
If Kyrie Irving has already given the Brooklyn Nets a glimpse of why he has a reputation for being a difficult personality to manage, his coach is not willing to admit it publicly.
On Tuesday, ESPN’s Jackie MacMullan published a lengthy feature in which she said some Nets officials are quietly concerned about Irving’s mood swings and the way he goes into “funks” where he becomes unwilling to communicate with the coaching staff and front office. When asked about that report, head coach Kenny Atkinson dismissed it as “completely false.”
There's an ESPN story out stating #Nets officials are concerned about Kyrie Irving's mood swings. Kenny Atkinson: "That is completely false in strictly speaking of my observation and my experience with him so far. It's absolutely not true. I say I'm the moody one." #NBA
— Brian Heyman (@bheyman99) October 29, 2019
Irving is said to have refused to take part in a two-day minicamp the Nets held over the summer that involved gathering biometric data on players. MacMullan said things got awkward when Irving simply said, “I’m not doing it.” There were also a couple of supposed incidents during the team’s trip to China when Irving seemed surprisingly irritated.
Many NBA superstars are difficult to manage, and that is certainly true of Irving. His talent is undeniable, but there’s a reason we hear unflattering stories about him that paint him as someone who can be uncooperative for no apparent reason. The Nets knew that when they signed him, and they will gladly put up with it if he helps the team succeed.
Kyrie Irving may be a lot happier with the Brooklyn Nets than he was with the Boston Celtics over the past two seasons, but apparently his new team has already witnessed some of the personality traits that can make Irving a difficult superstar to manage.
In a lengthy feature about the Nets and the bond between their new trio of Irving, Kevin Durant and DeAndre Jordan, ESPN’s Jackie MacMullan reported that there were times during the offseason when Brooklyn’s brass was concerned about Irving’s “infamous mood swings.” Like many NBA superstars, Irving prefers to do things his own way. However, he seems even more stubborn than some of his counterparts, which Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge certainly came to understand.
The Nets are big on gathering performance-based data from their players, and that entails having them stick to a training routine that head coach Kenny Atkinson admits can be “a bit rigid.” According to MacMullan, the Nets held their annual two-day minicamp with players over the summer that involved gathering biometric data through wearables, and Irving refused to participate. Members of the organization tried to kindly encourage him to take part, noting that the camp is designed to build team chemistry, among other things.
Irving wasn’t having any of it, and MacMullan’s source said things got a bit awkward when he sternly said, “I’m not doing it.” For what it’s worth, Durant and Jordan were also said to be a bit skeptical of Brooklyn’s daily routine, and Atkinson acknowledged that star players have a very specific training regimen that has worked for them.
“Look,” Atkinson says. “These guys have won championships. They come from darn good pedigrees, and we’ve thrown some things at them that they’ve said, ‘Hell no!'”
For Irving, however, it’s not just about the different approach in training. MacMullan was told that Irving often goes into “funks” where he becomes unwilling to communicate with the coaching staff and front office, and one such instance took place while the team was in China. Teams officials were left puzzled, and the mood swings are said to be an “unspoken concern” for them.
On a separate occasion in China, Irving refused to remove his hat for a team photoshoot at the Pearl TV Tower. He reportedly said the team should photoshop the hat out if they don’t want him to be shown wearing it.
The Nets obviously knew what they were getting into when they signed Irving. While the team has lost two of its first three games, Irving is averaging a whopping 37.7 points and dropped 50 on opening night. His talent is undeniable, but this is certainly not the first we have heard of him being difficult to manage or play alongside.
Ja Morant showed on Sunday why the Memphis Grizzlies saw a superstar when they drafted him No. 2 overall this year.
Morant had 30 points with nine assists as the Grizzlies beat the Brooklyn Nets 134-133 in overtime for their first win of the season. Morant looked great on a sequence where he scored on Kyrie Irving and then blocked the Nets guard’s shot to send the game to OT.
— NBA (@NBA) October 28, 2019
Morant was more or less finding his way in the Grizzlies’ first two games of the season (10 and 14 points scored), but he really looked good against Brooklyn.
In addition to Morant, the rebuilding Grizzlies have 2018 No. 4 pick Jaren Jackson Jr. as one of their cornerstones for the future. They no longer have Marc Gasol and Mike Conley Jr. and instead are Ja’s squad.
New York Knicks fans were out to let Kyrie Irving know on Friday night which team runs New York.
Irving was booed while at the free throw line in the first few minutes of the Brooklyn Nets’ game against the Knicks. He was booed even though his Nets were home at Barclays Center.
Kyrie gets booed by Knicks fan in his home arena pic.twitter.com/2B5Dd4l9Zl
— NBA Central (@TheNBACentral) October 25, 2019
That may have happened early in the game, but Irving got the last laugh with a victory. He scored 26 points including five straight in the final minute to give the Nets the lead for good. He also apparently taunted Knicks fan Fat Joe after winning.
Looked like Kyrie Irving flipped the ball to Knicks fan Fat Joe after the buzzer sounded on the Nets’ 113-109 win over New York. Fat Joe, seated courtside, knocked it away in disgust. “This is our home!” Irving says in an on-court interview.
— Ian Begley (@IanBegley) October 26, 2019
Irving now has a 50-point game (in an overtime loss) and 26-point game in a victory through his first two contests for his new team.
The preseason game between the Los Angeles Lakers and Brooklyn Nets went on as scheduled in China on Thursday, and Kyrie Irving may end up wishing it hadn’t.
Irving left the game after he appeared to re-aggravate a face injury he suffered during the offseason. He was hit in the face while playing tight defense on Rajon Rondo, and he was seen tossing his protective face mask down in frustration and cursing shortly before being ruled out for the remainder of the game.
Kyrie took a shot to the face while wearing protective mask, leaves game and looks in pain on the bench pic.twitter.com/R5mlUpG778
— gifdsports (@gifdsports) October 10, 2019
Irving suffered a facial fracture when he took an elbow to the face in a pickup game prior to training camp. The Nets were obviously comfortable with the way he was recovering if they allowed him to play in a meaningless exhibition game, but it remains to be seen if Irving suffered a setback.
Expect Brooklyn to play it safe with the star point guard going forward.