Kyrie Irving 'incredibly' grateful to be back with the Brooklyn Nets

Kyrie Irving returned to practice with the Brooklyn Nets for the first time since preseason and said he understood why the team decided to stay away due to New York City’s vaccination mandate.

“I understood his decision and respected it,” Irving told Nets reporters after practice Wednesday in his first comments since Oct. 13. “I really had to sit back and think and try not to get too emotionally attached to what they were deciding. I had to really evaluate things and see them from their perspective, that is, the organization and my teammates.

“I really felt empathy and understood her decision to say that if I wasn’t going to get fully vaccinated then I couldn’t fully participate.”

Coach Steve Nash has said Irving will need to improve one to two weeks before he can be in a road game.

“I’ve wasted so much time,” Irving said of his absence. “It’s my first day back with the guys and I felt like a long time had passed. It’s only been what, three months or so. But I felt like the days were slowly being crossed off the calendar as I’m sitting at home. When I thought about [volver a la práctica] I could barely sleep last night. “

Irving hasn’t been with the team on a regular basis since he practiced with the team for a week in San Diego at training camp in early October. With New York City mandating that players get vaccinated so they can play at Barclays Center, the Nets decided in October to not count on Irving for games and road practices.

“I knew the consequences,” Irving said about not being vaccinated and having to be away from the team. “I wasn’t prepared for it. As the season started, I had my thought process about being a full-time teammate and just going out and having fun and having a great game of basketball. But unfortunately it didn’t. Things go wrong. reason. We are here and I am grateful for this. “

With a COVID outbreak that brought up to 10 Nets to health and safety protocols at once, Brooklyn had three games postponed last week. The Nets opted to bring point guard back for road games.

But just one day after the decision, Irving entered protocols on December 18. Irving, Kevin Durant and LaMarcus Aldridge were ‘released’ from health and safety protocols on Tuesday and into practice on Wednesday.

“Unbelievably grateful to be back,” Irving said. “(I was) received with open arms [por] my teammates and the entire organization. I’m not going to lie, it has been relatively difficult to see from the bench with everything that happens in the world. I know everyone is feeling it [COVID]. Praying that everyone is healthy during these times. If I get a chance to get on the floor and play with my teammates, even if it’s just on the road, I’m grateful for the opportunity. “

Irving admitted that it was difficult for him to disconnect from all the conversations surrounding him and the Nets while he was away.

“A lot of uncertainty,” Irving said about waiting for when he might return. “Many ‘what ifs’. Many scenarios. It’s hard not to pay attention to what is being said about the circumstances we find ourselves in and everyone’s opinion about it. I tried to stay firm and connected to the team, committed and waiting. the moment or the opportunity when things calm down.

Nash said Irving was part of a smart-ass group that played and conditioned during practice.

“It looks great considering he’s just got out of protocol and hasn’t played basketball,” Nash told reporters.

“It’s still a changing landscape,” Nash added of Irving’s physical situation. “I couldn’t give you an answer, but when it came to seeing him in person today, he looked as good as you could hope for considering everything that happened in the last few weeks.”

Although this was the first time he had returned to playing with the pros after working out at the high school and college gyms in the area, Irving said being on the floor with his team was like riding a bike again. .

“I’ve never seen Kyrie without being Kyrie,” forward DeAndre ‘Bembry said of what Irving was like. “So for the most part it looks good. Going up and down the court, he didn’t look tired. He looked good today. Kyrie himself, he went and shot midrange and some 3s.”

It could be a while before Irving makes his season debut. The Nets begin a three-game home run Thursday against the 76ers. Irving’s first chance to potentially play will be when the Nets have their next road game in Indiana on January 5. After that the Nets won’t be on the road again until January 12 in Chicago. They will then begin a four-game road swing on January 17 at Cleveland.

“I’m at peace with the increase,” said Irving, who also won’t be able to play the Knicks at Madison Square Garden or Toronto unless he’s vaccinated. “But I can’t just sit here and sugarcoat it.

“I’m looking forward to that first game, either [el 5 de enero] or at some point later, however, I can get back into optimal shape and be productive, that’s what I’m aiming for. “

Durant, 33, and James Harden, 32, wanted Irving back, and the point guard said the championship window will only be open for a while for the Nets’ big three.

“We have a lot more left in the tank,” said 29-year-old Irving. “But obviously our age of the three of us, being at a certain level of mastery in this game, it’s only going to last a certain amount of time. We wanted to hit while the iron is hot.”