Kyrie Irving: Times with Nets 'where I felt very disrespected'


Kyrie Irving was officially introduced by the Mavericks on Tuesday, opening the door for reporters to ask about what led to the All-Star requesting a trade from the Nets, and being granted that wish within 48 hours.

In answering those questions, Irving made it clear that he didn’t feel respected by Brooklyn, the team that signed him to a four-year, $136.5 million deal, changed their stance on his vaccination status to allow him to play in road games last season, and satisfied his trade request in a matter of days.

“I just know I want to be in places where I’m celebrated, not just tolerated or kind of dealt with in a way that doesn’t make me feel respected,” Irving said. “There were times throughout this process when I was in Brooklyn where I felt very disrespected. I work extremely hard at what I do. Nobody 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, continue to prepare in the gym, and now that I’m in Dallas, just focus on what I can control.

“I’m always gonna be close with those guys in Brooklyn, just like I’m close with guys in Boston, just like I’m close with guys in Cleveland.”

Irving and the Nets reportedly clashed over the terms of his next contract, as Brooklyn was hesitant to fully commit long term to a player who, despite his undeniable talent, sat out much of last season due to his vaccination stance, and served a suspension for promoting a video with anti-Semitic material earlier this season, to which a subsequent on apology on his Instagram page has been deleted. Irving wouldn’t get into the specifics of why he felt disrespected, but based on his comments, he may have not liked how his family was treated.

It’s worth noting that Irving’s stepmother, Shetellia Riley Irving, is also his agent, and would have been a part of those contract negotiations.

“I think that’s another day where I can really go into detail about it,” Irving said. “I’m not the person to speak on names and go to someone behind their back and leak someone to the media. That’s never been me. I’ve been an audience member of watching people say things about me that ultimately jut fall 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, and 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. I took a chance, and luckily and fortunately, the Dallas Mavericks picked me up.

"I wish I would have gotten to know the people that were behind the organization," Irving continued. "I went in there as just a kid with a dream on my mind with KD and we wanted to bring a championship to a young organization…I grew up a New jersey Nets fan. It’s in my blood. But when things change, and you’re not getting transparency and honesty from the front office and the people around you, I don’t know what person feels comfortable in that type of environment…I wish them well. Left them in fourth place. I did what I was supposed to do. Took care of my teammates. Was incredibly selfless in my approach to leading."

Now the focus shifts to Dallas, where Irving says he already feels welcomed and desired. Meanwhile, many around the league will wait to see if Irving brings more turmoil to another team, and follows a pattern that has been with him since his days with the Cavaliers and Celtics.

“I really feel wanted,” Irving said. “I know they had to give up some pieces for me, and I don’t take that for granted…I’ve been here for about 48 hours, and it’s been nothing but a warm embrace.”

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