Kyrie Irving rejoins Brooklyn Nets, says he just needed a pause – ESPN

SPORTS

NEW YORK — Kyrie Irving rejoined the Brooklyn Nets on Tuesday after two weeks away from the team.

« I’m back, I’m happy to be back, » Irving told reporters. « And we got some great pieces and we just move on and I let my actions and my game speak for itself like I planned on doing. Just needed a pause. »

Irving practiced with the team Tuesday and coach Steve Nash said that he « expects » Irving will play on Wednesday against the Cleveland Cavaliers. Irving had missed the team’s past seven games — five for personal reasons and two while conditioning.

Irving said that he « had a lot of family and personal stuff going on. So, just want to leave it at that. »

During the time away for personal reasons, the league fined Irving $50,000 for violating health and safety protocols and attending what appeared to be a family birthday party. He also lost more than $800,000 in salary for the two games he missed while in quarantine.

Irving declined to answer whether or not he knew he was violating the league’s coronavirus safety rules, saying, « Happy to be back. Thank you. »

The last game Irving played in for Brooklyn was on Jan. 5. The next day, a mob of President Donald Trump’s supporters attacked the U.S. Capitol. Irving said on Tuesday that he has to make a « separation » between current political and societal events in the United States and playing in the NBA.

« If you don’t create that distinction, » Irving said, « then it’s easy to feel the weight of the world while you’re going out there and playing. So, I’d be lying sitting here and saying I don’t feel what’s going on in the world, nor am I paying attention to it. I just have a huge responsibility, I feel, to continue to serve my community and the underserved. And when I’m out here playing, it’s continuing to leave knowledge with these guys and commit to something, like I always say, bigger than ourselves. »

Irving said that it is « hard to ignore » what is going on in the world and he wants to continue to « make daily change. » Still, he said he is committed to playing basketball.

« When things become overwhelming in life, you’ve just got to take a step back and realize what’s important, » Irving said. « And I love to play — it’s never been a question. I’ve committed myself, when this wasn’t even a thing for me. »

Irving apologized to fans who may have been frustrated or disappointed by his absence, saying that he understood their perspective because « I started off as a fanatic. I’ve been invested in this organization since I was a kid. »

« My commitment has always [been] to bringing something special to Brooklyn, » Irving said. « It wasn’t just a championship. It was unity, equality, just bigger things than just the game itself. It took quite a while and quite a few valleys to get back home, initially. So for me, I’m just taking every day, just being grateful. »

Irving said that he addressed his teammates and the organization individually.

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