Over the past week, speculation regarding Kyrie Irving's absence due to "personal reasons" covered a number of possibilities. The star guard has missed the past three games and, given the fact that we still haven't heard from him to this point, it seemed likely that he'd miss more, including games against the Nuggets on Tuesday and Knicks on Wednesday.
Where has he been? Was he sitting out because of the attacks on the U.S. Capitol? Did he just not want to play? Or was he up to something a little less responsible?
Though we can't say for sure — the answer could be all three of those, or more, and we need to stay sensitive to all possibilities until we know the facts — a new series of social media images and videos leads to the last reason I listed above becoming a likely candidate. Billy Reinhardt of Nets Daily at SB Nation shared the videos that had surfaced, showing Irving and his sister, Asia, among many others, at a large venue.
Rumors roared far and wide, including one that went viral on Reddit, claiming that Irving was partying with Drake in Toronto. After some extensive internet digging — which resulted in findings like the fact that both Asia and Kyrie's father, Drederick, had birthdays around this weekend — by popular Twitter account @WorldWideWob (run by FanDuel's Rob Perez), it seems far more likely that a local family party was the actual outcome, as Reinhardt suggested.
Regardless of whether it was in Toronto or in West Orange, New Jersey, the video still would seem to show fairly solid evidence of Irving's whereabouts during a period when the NBA world had no clue where he was. What we don't know for sure is whether or not those videos are current or if they were taken at another time, as Perez mentioned.
Still, as I mentioned before, it's important to be sensitive to this situation until we know the facts, and those will have to come from Irving himself, as Bobby Marks notes.
To this point, his teammates and coaches have been supportive of Irving and are keeping what they know, if anything, private.
Head coach Steve Nash also left it up to the guard to explain where he's been.
“Ky’s still on personal leave and all the communication with Ky between the organization I’m going to keep private and I’m sure you’ll hear from him at some point,” Nash said (via Ian Begley of SNY). “I’m not going to go into any of the talks with Ky, that’s just a private matter."
Irving had been playing some top-notch basketball to kick off the season, averaging 27.1 points, 5.3 rebounds and 6.1 assists over seven games, compiling a 4-3 record in that span. Without Irving, the Nets are 1-3, including two straight losses to the Grizzlies and Thunder which dropped them below .500 for the season.