Kyrie Irving’s return to the Nets following a weeks-long suspension for conduct detrimental to the team (specifically refusing to “unequivocally” apologize for platforming hate speech) has been relatively free of controversy, save for a protest outside Barclays Center in his first game back. However, Irving didn’t seem particularly amused by a reporter’s line of questioning following Brooklyn’s win Wednesday night against Washington, appearing visibly annoyed when Nick Friedell asked him about teammate Kevin Durant’s recent dominance, averaging 38.3 points on elite 68.8-percent shooting over the Nets’ current three-game winning streak.
Friedell, who covers the Nets for ESPN, got into it with the combative point guard earlier this year, drawing Irving’s ire by confronting him about promoting a controversial documentary with racist themes and antisemitism. That led to a contentious back-and-forth with Irving growing more defensive as Friedell continued to interrogate him, abruptly ending the press conference while accusing the veteran reporter of “dehumanizing” him.
Though few would argue that Irving handled himself poorly in that exchange, you can see why he’d be put off by Friedell’s overly familiar tone, engaging a media-wary player who clearly isn’t ready to have a sense of humor about their relationship. Many on Twitter have suggested Friedell, given his awkward history with Irving, should be assigned a new beat, one that takes him far away from the smoldering train wreck that is the Brooklyn Nets and their polarizing floor general. However, until that happens (if it ever does), expect Irving and Friedell to continue their bitter rivalry with no love lost between a prodding reporter and an unwilling interview subject who hates the media with a burning passion.