Suspended All-Star guard Kyrie Irving might be back suiting up for the Brooklyn Nets very soon indeed. The team initially suspended Irving on Nov. 3, a week after he shared a link to an antisemitic film. That was an indefinite suspension (covering a minimum of at least five games), and subsequent reports spotlighted a checklist the team expected Irving to complete before a return. But last Tuesday saw news of Irving (seen above in March) having a “productive and understanding” meeting with NBA commissioner Adam Silver. And ESPN’s Adrian Wojnaroswki reported Wednesday that Irving’s return may come quickly indeed, saying he could play for the Nets as soon as Sunday’s home game against the Memphis Grizzlies:
NBPA's Tamika Tremaglio to ESPN: "He has been grappling with the full weight of the impact of his voice and actions, particularly in the Jewish community. Kyrie rejects antisemitism in any form, and he’s dedicated to bettering himself and increasing his level of understanding." https://t.co/2JuDJvgCcy
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) November 17, 2022
Tremaglio and the union have worked closely with Irving, the Nets and the NBA in helping him to author his own remedies to end the suspension, sources said. What may have started out as a rigid list of prerequisites evolved into Irving himself taking ownership of the process, which is what the Nets and league hoped would be the case, sources said.
Irving is carrying out a minimum five-game suspension without pay for his failure to initially apologize and condemn his social media link to a film riddled with antisemitic material.
…In a memo to members of the NBPA on Friday, the union told NBA players that, “Kyrie’s rights, and the rights of all future players, have been protected at every turn,” and added that the union “look(s) forward very soon to a resolution of all matters satisfactory to all parties.”
The Nets are 6-9 on the season, but have gone 4-3 since Irving’s suspension. However, that includes a 153-121 nationally-televised loss to the Sacramento Kings Tuesday, and one that prompted some notable comments from Kevin Durant about their lineup sans Irving. They have at least one more game to play without Irving, Thursday night against the Portland Trail Blazers.
Irving, who’s averaged 26.9 points, 5.1 rebounds and 5.1 assists for the team this season, would definitely give them more offensive firepower. But there will certainly be debate about if he should be allowed to return this quickly after his promotion of an antisemitic film and after his initial refusal to disavow it.
This is also just one more layer of drama for the Nets, who reportedly recently had a players-only meeting about injured player Ben Simmons. We’ll see if Irving does in fact return for them Sunday, and if so, how that goes.
[ESPN; photo from Sam Sharpe/USA Today Sports]