Kyrie Irving Jan 5, 2022; Indianapolis, Indiana, USA; Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving (11) reacts to a made basket in the second half against the Indiana Pacers at Gainbridge Fieldhouse. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

Kyrie Irving made his season debut for the Brooklyn Nets on Wednesday night after sitting out Brooklyn’s first 35 games of the 2021-22 NBA season due to being unvaccinated for COVID-19. Irving isn’t eligible to play home games for Brooklyn because of New York’s vaccination mandate, but head coach Steve Nash and the Nets are now — in a recent change of plans — allowing the point guard to participate as a part-time player.

While the Irving situation will continue to be a controversial story, there’s no doubting the seven-time All-Star’s basketball ability- and he didn’t take long to put the skills on display in his return to game action.

Irving scored 22 points (9-of-17 from the field, 4-of-4 at the charity stripe), dished out four assists, pulled down three rebounds, and swiped a game-high three steals in Brooklyn’s 129-121 comeback victory over the Indiana Pacers (stealing the spotlight from Lance Stephenson). He really turned it on late to help the comeback effort (Brooklyn trailed by as many as 19 points), scoring 10 points in the Nets’ dominant — 35-20 — fourth quarter. And he ended the third quarter in dramatic fashion with a buzzer-beating jumper to get Brooklyn within seven points.

So, that’s a pretty successful return that the Nets have to be very happy about- and the win snapped their three-game losing streak. Brooklyn has two home games up next (beginning with a showdown against the Milwaukee Bucks on Friday), so Irving won’t play again until next Monday on the road against the Portland Trail Blazers.

Here’s a sampling of how the hoops world reacted to Irving’s return:

About Matt Clapp

Matt is an editor at The Comeback. He attended Colorado State University, wishes he was Saved by the Bell's Zack Morris, and idolizes Larry David. And loves pizza and dogs because obviously.

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