Saturday marked the first time Kyrie Irving has spoken to the New York media since he last played for the Nets on November 14. He’s been out with a right shoulder impingement, missing 23 games in the process, and counting.
While speaking about his injury — which he’s received a cortisone shot for, with the hope of avoiding surgery — Irving was asked about what went down when the Nets visited Boston back on Thanksgiving Eve, as well as the criticism he’s received from ex-Celtics like Kevin Garnett and Kendrick Perkins.
Irving posted a lengthy statement on Instagram following Brooklyn’s road game against the Celtics, but he had more to add on Saturday.
“Well, I think the picture and why I started playing basketball, you know, you realize a lot of variables come into play with all of this,” Irving said to reporters in Brooklyn. “I do it because I love it. But at the end of the day, it’s entertainment. You know, fans love to be entertained and I think that I, myself, kind of fell into that cycle of being emotionally attached to something like that, especially when I’m watching the game at home with my family. You know, much to the fact that it wasn’t about the players on the floor during that day. It became about me and where I was and what I was doing.
“For basketball to become more about just one individual player, and it’s a team sport, just to justify market value or bringing more fans to the games or justifying why all that stuff happens, hey so be it. That’s entertainment.”
“So, I got nothing but love for Boston,” he said. “Nothing but love for the journey that I had with all those guys. I appreciate everyone standing up for me and speaking on my behalf, telling (people), you know, it’s not my fault and, ‘It’s not all on him.’ I'm a man. I’m able to take criticism. I haven’t taken it well in the past. But, at this point in my career, it’s just the big picture is, ‘Hey, I need to focus on winning a championship here.’ And “How do I make this organization better?” And we move forward from that point.
“And I can’t control what anyone says about me when I’m not talking or when I am talking or when I’m in an arena and when I’m not. People are going say, regardless, whatever they feel. So, I respect that. But at the end of the day, it’s entertainment, man. It’s changing.”