The preseason chatter surrounding Kyrie Irving has focused on his unwillingness to talk to the media, which has overshadowed comments he made in October about him not seeing the Nets as having a head coach. He finally spoke with reporters Monday to set the record straight on both topics.
Days after appearing to refer to the media as “pawns” on his Instagram feed Friday, Irving told the reporters interviewing him Monday that wasn’t what he meant.
“It’s really just about how I felt about the mistreatment of certain artists when we get to a certain platform of when we make decisions within our lives to have full control and ownership,” Irving said, according to ESPN. He later added: “We want to perform in a secure and protected space.”
Irving released a statement last week saying he wouldn’t speak to media during the 2020-21 NBA season, wanting instead to focus on what’s happening internally with the Nets. The NBA and the players association have an agreement that requires players to speak to the press. Irving was fined $25,000 for his actions.
Not talking to reporters also meant Irving couldn’t comment on what he’d said in October on a podcast hosted by Brooklyn teammate Kevin Durant. Irving said then that he didn’t “really see [the Nets] as having a head coach.” Steve Nash is in his first head coaching gig and his first season in charge in Brooklyn, so Irving used his Monday press conference to clear that up, too.
“Steve’s been amazing,” Irving said. “He kind of commands the respect. I think I’ve got to take back my comments in terms of the head coach back a few months ago. But it’s just like, man, we have such a great synergy. Everyone feels like we’re coaching one another to be better, so I’m grateful for that.”
Irving didn’t take part in press conferences throughout training camp, leaving his teammates to speak about his recovery from shoulder surgery and how he was jelling with a healthy Durant. Irving returned to the court Sunday in preseason action against the Wizards, scoring 18 points and dishing out four assists. The Nets have been quick to brand “7-11” as a catch phrase; Durant wears No. 7 and Irving wears No. 11.
“It’s a different show, it was a different stage, and it’s a new beginning in terms of what we’re building,” Irving said. “And moving forward with the pieces that we have here. And that includes ‘7-11,’ so get to know us.”