Kyrie Irving says he felt 'disrespected' by Nets after trade to Mavericks
Kyrie Irving was officially introduced as a member of the Dallas Mavericks on Tuesday, but there was still plenty to discuss about his former team, the Brooklyn Nets.
The All-Star point guard reportedly hit the eject button last week when he requested a trade after four seasons on the team alongside Kevin Durant, ultimately resulting in a deal that sent him and Markieff Morris to Dallas in exchange for Spencer Dinwiddie, Dorian Finney-Smith and draft picks.
It would be an understatement to call Irving's Nets tenure turbulent, especially when you consider the team said he "is currently unfit to be associated with the Brooklyn Nets" after Irving promoted on social media, and refused to apologize for, an antisemitic film. With the possibility looming that even more issues occurred behind the scenes, Irving told reporters Tuesday he felt disrespected while in Brooklyn.
"I just know I want to be in a place where I'm celebrated, not just tolerated or kinda dealt with in a way that doesn't make me feel disrespected. There were times throughout this process when I was in Brooklyn where I felt very disrespected and my talent — I work extremely hard at what I do, no one ever talks about my work ethic, though. Everyone talks about what I'm doing off the floor. I just want to change that narrative, write my own story and just continue to prepare in the gym, and now that I'm in Dallas, focus on what I control."
When asked what the Nets did that Irving found disrespectful, he said he could go into detail another day and continued to complain about people disrespecting him.
"I think that's another day where I could really go into detail about it. I'm not the person to really speak on names and go to someone behind their back and try to leak stuff to the media. That's never been me. I've been an audience member watching people say things about me that ultimately just falls off my shoulder ... I just know I need healthy boundaries, especially in this entertainment business. There's a lot of disrespect that goes on with people's families, with their names. I'm just not with it. It's nothing personal against any of those guys in the front office, it's just what I'm willing to accept."
At this point, it might be worth looking back at Irving's Nets career.
The Nets did plenty to keep Kyrie Irving happy
The Nets acquired Irving on a four-year, $141 million deal while also acquiring Durant via a sign-and-trade. They also signed DeAndre Jordan to a highly regrettable four-year, $40 million deal at the rumored insistence of Durant and Irving.
With Durant and Irving's backing, the Nets then hired the inexperienced Steve Nash, after which Irving said coaching the team would be a "collaborative" effort between them. Irving's first season in Brooklyn, which was sans Durant while the star recovered from his Achilles tear, ended in February due to a shoulder injury.
The next season was by far Irving's best in a Nets uniform, in which he received All-NBA third-team honors before Brooklyn bowed out to the eventual champion Milwaukee Bucks in the NBA playoffs. Irving, already known for his past belief in a flat Earth, entered a new level of controversy the next season when he refused to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Due to New York laws, that left him unable to play in home games.
The Nets initially decided to not play Irving at all rather than as a part-time player, but soon buckled and started playing him on the road, then full time once the vaccine requirement was lifted. Between that and injury woes, the Nets failed to jell that season, getting swept by the Boston Celtics in the first round.
Then there was this season, which saw Irving trigger outrage when he shared a documentary containing antisemitic falsehoods and conspiracy theories, including a fake quote from Adolf Hitler. He also shared a video by conspiracy theorist Alex Jones. Irving doubled down on both videos, at which point the Nets went into full damage-control mode, releasing a statement alongside the Anti-Defamation League quoting him as saying he took responsibility for "the negative impact" of his post on the Jewish community and pledging a $500,000 donation.
That could have been the end of it, until Irving was asked, straight up, if he held antisemitic beliefs. Irving did not say no and instead claimed he couldn't be antisemitic, leading to the Nets suspending him for what ended up being eight games and demand he apologize, complete sensitivity training and meet with Jewish leaders in Brooklyn.
Irving had been a relatively good citizen since his return, but the ultimate numbers of his Nets tenure are 27.1 points per game, 143 regular season games played out of a possible 279, one playoff series won, one awful contract signed at his insistence and two different controversies that saw him miss several games and engulf coverage of the team.
You can only wonder what was being said behind the scenes when all of that was playing out in public.