Brooklyn Nets star guard Kyrie Irving didn’t have the triumphant return to Barclays Center he would perhaps have imagined.
Nonetheless, the 119 – 100 defeat to Charlotte put an end to one of the more bizarre periods of his career.
Kyrie Irving was initially left out of the Nets roster entirely due to his choice to refuse a Covid-19 vaccine.
However, an outbreak swept the team in December, leading to his return. Kyrie Irving made his season debut on Jan 5. He returned to Barclays Center on Sunday for the first time since the playoffs of June 7, 2021.
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It had been unclear when Irving could resume home games due to New York City’s mandate on vaccines. Last week Mayor Eric Adams rolled back the mandate, allowing athletes and performers to enter workplaces without the requirement of vaccination.
Irving will feel vindicated after not backing down from his stance on the vaccine. Unfortunately, his first game back at home didn’t live up to the occasion.
Irving was well below his usual standard, finishing 6-for-22 from the field in 41 minutes. He had 16 points and 11 assists but was 1-for-9 from behind the arc.
“It was great to see him out there,” Nets star Kevin Durant said. “Good to see the fans excited for him. Unfortunately, we took the L, though. But we move forward knowing that we have him here. Build on what we have and try to get a win next game.”
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“Not the result we wanted,” Irving said. “I didn’t shoot as well as I wanted. Basically none of the things I had hoped for going well tonight, it just didn’t happen. And that’s just the flow of basketball. Mentally, physically, emotionally, spiritually, it felt OK, but just the jump shot wasn’t falling tonight. We weren’t hitting shots. So not the result we wanted, but definitely grateful that we were part of history tonight and I got to do it here.”