Kyrie Irving rejoined the Brooklyn Nets at practice on Tuesday and spoke with reporters for the first time after two weeks away from the team.
“I’m back, I’m happy to be back,” Irving told reporters. “And we got some great pieces and we just move on and I let my actions and my game speak for itself like I planned on doing. Just needed a pause.”
Irving said that he “had a lot of family and personal stuff going on. So, just want to leave it at that.”
Irving was fined for violating the NBA’s health and safety protocols for attending a family birthday party. Irving also lost over $800,000 in salary for the two games he missed while in quarantine.
Irving said he has to make a “separation” between current political and societal events in the United States and playing in the NBA.
“If you don’t create that distinction,” Irving said, “Then it’s easy to feel the weight of the world while you’re going out there and playing. So, I’d be lying sitting here and saying I don’t feel what’s going on in the world, nor am I paying attention to it. I just have a huge responsibility, I feel, to continue to serve my community and the underserved. And when I’m out here playing, it’s continuing to leave knowledge with these guys and commit to something, like I always say, bigger than ourselves.”
Irving apologized to fans who may have been frustrated or disappointed by his absence, saying that he understood their perspective because “I started off as a fanatic, I’ve been invested in this organization since I was a kid.”
“My commitment has always to bringing something special to Brooklyn,” Irving said. “It wasn’t just a championship. It was unity, equality, just bigger things than just the game itself. It took quite a while and quite a few valleys to get back home, initially. So for me, I’m just taking every day, just being grateful.”