Kyrie says no regrets about time with Nets at All-Star media day

1 month ago Newsday

SALT LAKE CITY — At the NBA All-Star Weekend, media day takes on an odd form with media from around the world gathered and some come armed with sound bite questions. What teammate would you want beside you in a zombie apocalypse? Did you know in Brazil they call you Ja Morango because your name rhymes with strawberry?

But as Kyrie Irving sat through a 23-minute media session, dressed in black with sunglasses hiding his eyes, there were none of these oddball questions. The focus was on basketball and Irving has been known to swerve down unexpected paths of his own making.

What he did mostly on this day was continue to reinforce his own beliefs — maybe some would consider them as offbeat as his flat earth stories — that he gave everything he had to Brooklyn and the eventual parting was something in which he was an innocent bystander.

“No regrets,” Irving said of the tumultuous tenure in Brooklyn and the ending earlier this month with the trade to the Dallas Mavericks. “I had a plan in place where I wanted to stay in Brooklyn long term, be a Net. It was a dream come true for me. Obviously, I wish things could have worked out for the best of all of us in terms of winning a championship and etching our names into history of the NBA. Those are big aspirations.

“It sounds easier said than done. But I had an incredible four years. I'm grateful to all the people I met throughout the whole entire organization. But I have no regrets. Went through a lot of personal battles myself, had a unique journey. Now I get to speak on it truthfully and know that I've grown as a person, grown as a player. Now I can move forward and reflect on the rearview when it's time, but move forward with Dallas and the teammates I have now. So I'm grateful.”

The retrospective skips over the controversial moments — the injury absences, the self-imposed departures from the team, the refusal to get vaccinated and the eventual trade demand. It’s hardly a coincidence that Irving is one of the most talented players in the game — maybe in the history of the game — and he is on to his fourth team and no one would be surprised if as a free agent in the summer he lands on a fifth team.

He spoke in cryptic terms, insisting that sometimes what happens behind closed doors are things that are not known to the public. And without clarifying them he would not take any blame for the trade demand that led to the parting from the Nets — but insisted that trade demands are not a problem.

“What’s a bad situation, and why doesn’t anyone have the ability to ask for trades?” Irving said. “That’s my question. Just when did it become terrible to make great business decisions for yourself and your happiness and your peace of mind? Not every employer you’re going to get along with, so if you have a chance to go somewhere else, and you’re doing it legally, then I don’t think there’s a problem with it.

“Again, the speculation and narrative is what makes this entertainment kind of seem a little bit more important or more a priority than it actually is. Like, it’s my life. It’s not just a dream that everybody can gossip about. I take it very serious, and most of the work that I do doesn’t get seen. So I don’t know if it ever will be truly appreciated, but all in all when you work as hard as I do or anyone else at a specific profession, I feel like you should have the liberty and the freedom to go where you’re wanted and where you're celebrated and where you feel comfortable. So I wouldn’t say any of my situations were bad, I just think they were lessons and growing within the business of the NBA and learning that every organization is different.”

Kevin Durant, who came as a package in 2019 to Brooklyn in what was believed to be a free agent windfall, was also dealt away this month, with less hard feelings played out publicly or privately. But just the same, he saw a time for an exit and he took it.

“I don’t think it’s bad for the league,” Durant said. “It’s bringing more eyes to the league. More people are more excited. The tweets that I got and the news hits that we got from me being traded and Kyrie being traded, just brings more attention to the league.

“And that’s really what makes you money, is when you get more attention. So I think it’s great for the league, to be honest. Teams have been trading players and making acquisitions for a long time. Now when a player can kind of dictate where he wants to go and leave in free agency or demand a trade, it’s just part of the game now. So I don’t think it’s a bad thing. It’s bringing more and more excitement to the game.”
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