After watching back the end of the Brooklyn Nets’ 2021-22 season, which culminated in a playoff sweep at the hands of the Boston Celtics, Kyrie Irving felt a “peace of mind” that opting in to the final year of his deal and returning to Brooklyn was the right move.
“Watching it back gave me peace of mind that there was something more to strive for this year. There was something different we were going to bring, and it was easy to make that decision to come back because I knew I didn’t want to give up on something I hadn’t seen all the way through,” Irving said during Nets Media Day on Monday.
But right around when he decided to opt-in ahead of the NBA deadline, he saw his best friend, Kevin Durant, request a trade out of Brooklyn, a situation he found incredibly awkward.
“Hearing Kev put in a trade request, I opt-in…I’m sitting at home, it's awkward, I don’t know what to think of it,” Irving said. “But because there’s a trust we have with each other, I ultimately just want to see him do well and be happy – and if that wasn’t with our organization, I was going to have to accept that and move on.”
He knew that from the beginning, and that’s why, as everything dragged on this summer, he continued to support Durant no matter what.
“It was on Kev from the beginning. I honored his trade request and understood it,” Irving said. “There's been a lot of uncertainty in this building for the last couple of years, and that accountability that he asked for should be available at all times. I echoed those sentiments and felt the same way, and I felt like it was awkward watching your best friend go through the media storm and be in the middle of a cluster@#k. But, I honored what Kev had going on, and was wishing him the best.”
As it turned out, the best situation was KD deciding to stay in Brooklyn and run it back with Irving and company – and while that will bring a lot of questions well after Media Day ended, Kyrie himself just wants to focus on the future.
“All the narratives surrounding this team, it’s tough to answer every question about us and what our intent is,” Irving said. “This was the best opportunity for us, and we feel good about it.”
The same way, he said, he focused on being the best Kyrie he could be this summer, with or without KD, and tried to show that accountability he and Durant have always wanted.
“I’m not perfect in terms of the way I handle relationships and situations in my life in general, and I won’t claim I have it all figured out, but I used this summer I to maximize getting to know the people around me, on this journey with me, and give them support in a way where we knew we could hold each other accountable.”
Follow Lou DiPietro on Twitter: @LouDiPietroWFAN