Kyrie Irving may be playing at an All-Star level to start his tenure in Brooklyn, but apparently his off-field behaviour is leaving something to be desired.
According to an ESPN report by well-respected journo Jackie McMullen, Nets officials are feeling ‘queasy’ about Irving’s moodiness.
Yet Irving’s infamous mood swings, confirmed by his ex-teammates, which followed him from Cleveland to Boston to Brooklyn, are the unspoken concern that makes Nets officials queasy. When Irving lapses into these funks, he often shuts down, unwilling to communicate with the coaching staff, front office and sometimes, even his teammates. Nets team sources say one such episode occurred during Brooklyn’s trip to China, leaving everyone scratching their heads as to what precipitated it. There’s hope that Durant will be able to coax his friend into a better frame of mind. But when presented with that scenario, K.D. says he will be hands off.
There has already been leeway to allow Irving to march to his own drum. The Nets are willing to look past moments like the photo shoot at the Pearl TV Tower in China, when Irving refused to remove his hat and instructed them to photoshop it out. They will focus more on the bigger issue of sharing the ball and maintaining good team chemistry.
Irving signed with the Nets during free-agency, along with friends Kevin Durant and DeAndre Jordan. Durant is quoted in McMullen’s piece, saying “I look at Kyrie as somebody who is an artist… “You have to leave him alone. You know what he’ll bring to the table every night because he cares so much about the game.”
The hope among Brooklyn’s front office is clearly that Durant and Jordan will be able to pull Irving in to line, but there have to be concerns. Irving has had a notoriously checkered career from a culture stand-point, and this is only the latest in a series of rumours about his divisiveness, although it may be the first time it’s been put forward in such a way by such a qualified source.
That being said, Irving and LeBron James are famously close – despite some speed bumps along the way – and it was their chemistry on the floor (sorry, Kevin Love) that carried Cleveland to its first NBA title back in 2016.
Brooklyn GM Sean Marks and head coach Kenny Atkinson are evidently hoping a similar dynamic is allowed to build between Irving, Durant and Jordan.