Kyrie Irving felt 'very disrespected' at times during Nets tenure

Jan 19, 2023; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving (11) against the Phoenix Suns in the first half at Footprint Center.
Jan 19, 2023; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving (11) against the Phoenix Suns in the first half at Footprint Center. / Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Less than 24 hours after his trade to the Dallas Mavericks became official, guard Kyrie Irving told reporters that he felt “disrespected” and “just tolerated” at times during his Nets tenure.

“I just know I want to be places where I’m celebrated and not just tolerated or kind of dealt with in a way that doesn’t make me feel respected,” Irving said, via ESPN’s Ohm Youngmisuk. “There were times throughout this process when I was in Brooklyn when I felt very disrespected. I work extremely hard at what I do, and no one ever talks about my work ethic. Everyone always talks about what I’m doing off the floor. So, I just want to change that narrative, write my own story, and just continue to prepare in the gym.

“Now that I’m in Dallas, just focus on what I can control. I’m always going to be close with those guys in Brooklyn, just like I’m close with guys in Boston, just like I’m close with guys in Cleveland. It is a team, competitive sport, but we care about each other’s families way more off the court, so I know the relationships will extend off. I’m just focused on preparing to win.”

When he was asked a follow-up question about exactly how he felt disrespected during his time in Brooklyn, Irving chose not to get into specifics.

“I think that’s another day where I could really go into details about it. I’m not the person to really speak on names and go to someone behind their back and try to leak something to the media,” Irving said. “That’s never been me. Now, I’ve been an audience member of watching people say things about me that ultimately just fall off my shoulder. I’m really in a place that I’m grateful that I got to grow into over the last year and a half, two years.

“Spending time away from the basketball court gave me time to really appreciate life in a new way, and I just know that I need healthy boundaries. Especially in this entertainment business, there is a lot of disrespect that goes on with people’s families, with their names, and I’m just not with it. So, it’s nothing personal against any of those guys in that front office, it’s just what I’m willing to accept. I took a chance and luckily and fortunately the Dallas Mavericks picked me up, so it’s just all what I can control.”

Irving was dealt to the Mavs in a trade that brought Dorian Finney-Smith, Spencer Dinwiddie, and multiple draft picks back to Brooklyn, a deal that developed quickly after the eight-time All-Star requested to be moved.

Due to injuries and his choice to not get vaccinated against COVID-19, Irving ended up playing 143 of a possible 278 games with the Nets during his three-and-a-half-year tenure.