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Unlike John Mellencamp, Nets star Kyrie Irving fought the authority and won.
Though Brooklyn previously stated that Irving would need to get vaccinated or spend the year away from the court, the Nets have since reconsidered, announcing last week that Irving has the green light to play in road games. He’ll make his season debut tonight in Indiana against the Pacers.
That’s music to the ears of his Nets teammates.
“He’s a very talented guy, good teammate… I’m excited to have him back, for sure … he looks good. He’s Ky,” said center LaMarcus Aldridge after Wednesday’s shoot around. “He’s a professional and he’s talented, so he looks good.”
Steve Nash says Kyrie Irving won’t be playing 38 minutes but the Nets feel fine giving him some extended run. Doesn’t say whether or not he will start tonight.
— Alex Schiffer (@Alex__Schiffer) January 5, 2022
Irving adds firepower to a Nets roster that finds itself in second place in the Eastern Conference, even though the team has lost three straight games.
“It definitely gives us a spark. Something that we’re going to need in a three-game skid right now,” guard James Harden said after Monday’s home loss to Memphis. “It definitely gives us a spark and a blessing that we can have him back.
“Adding Kyrie is more special.”
Over the previous 10 seasons of his NBA career, Irving has averaged 23 points per game in roughly 34 minutes a night as a starter. Nets coach Steve Nash wouldn’t commit to starting Irving right off the bat, nor does he expect him to play his usual number of minutes. However, he doesn’t think Irving will be glued to the bench either.
“I don’t think it’s where he can play 38 [minutes],” said Nash. “But I think he can play a big chunk of the game.”
Once the Nets realized that even players who were vaccinated, boosted and masked could get COVID and be forced to miss games, they decided to welcome the unvaccinated Irving back to the lineup on a part-time (road games only) basis.
“We ended up having 13 players who had COVID,” Nash said. “We were going around signing a bunch of 10-days when we have a guy who can play for us. So what’s the difference between a 10-day and a guy? Those are part-time players too.”
“I think he’ll be fine,” responded Nash when asked how quickly Irving can shake off the rust.
Now that Irving’s on the winning side of the authority battle, don’t be surprised if he comes out grinnin’.
Follow along on Twitter: @OhioAF