With the Brooklyn Nets having their roster decimated by the COVID-19 pandemic in the past seven days, which led to only eight players, the NBA minimum, being available for Tuesday’s game and the postponement of games scheduled for December 19 and December 21, the team has decided to reverse the pre-season decision of not allowing Kyrie Irving, who is unvaccinated, to play only in road games. But what does his return mean?
Legendary Nets player Bernard King, who was at Barclays Center Saturday to assist with a Reform Alliance event, spoke exclusively to New York Sports Day about the return of Irving.
“He’s a great player and I think he’s a player they have been missing,” King said. “When you have a talent like Kyrie Irving, you want him on the team.”
“Instant offensive,” said Bally Sports Network’s Brandon “Scoop B” Robinson of what Irving brings to the team. “You are down so many players, because of the impact of COVID and health and safety protocols and all of those factors, but Kyrie coming in really and truly helps shoulder the load for guys like Patty Mills.”
Robinson continued to discuss what Irving brings to the team on the court. “You have a dual guard who can score at will, spell Kevin Durant and James Harden in key minutes in the games, but you only have him as a part-time player so it gives them a relief.”
Jamal Murphy, Contributor to ESPN’s The Undefeated and Host of Bill Rhoden “On Sports” podcast, also chimed in on the Irving news.
“Kyrie’s Irving’s return shows the Nets are back to business, for better or for worse,” Murphy reasoned. “The Nets’ decision to completely sideline Irving wasn’t some medical or political statement. It was a basketball decision that allowing Irving to play half of the games would be an untenable distraction to the team and their goals as a whole. The current COVID situation being what it is, that calculus has changed and it’s hard to argue with them. Whether he can get/stay on the court is another story.”
Ultimately, the best-case scenario for the Brooklyn Nets is for Irving to get vaccinated so that he is available for all games. But make no mistake, even with the continuity problems that may occur with him only being available for road games, Brooklyn is a better basketball team with him on the court, even if it’s only on the road.