Kyrie Irving 'grateful' to be back with Nets, admits he 'wasn't prepared' for unvaccinated consequences

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  • Brooklyn Nets
    Brooklyn Nets
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  • Kyrie Irving
    Kyrie Irving
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Kyrie Irving pulls up from 3 cropped
Kyrie Irving pulls up from 3 cropped

Kyrie Irving is back in the Nets building and he was honest: It felt like the first day of school all over again.

"Incredibly grateful just to be back in the building," he told reporters after practice. "Welcomed back with open arms by my teammates, just the whole entire organization. Not going to lie, it’s been relatively tough to watch from the sideline with everything going on in the world. I know everybody’s feeling it. Just praying for everybody to be healthy during these times.

"But if I get the opportunity to get on the court and play with some of my teammates, even if it’s just on the road for away games, just grateful for the opportunity.”

That's exactly what's going to happen with the New York City vaccination mandate still in place that doesn't allow Irving to play at Barclays Center. But the Nets reconsidered their initial premise of not having him be a part-time participant with the amount of players that have needed to go into health and safety protocols.

Irving divulged a bit on how he's been dealing with staying home and watching his teammates battle throughout the season. He knew what he was up against, but didn't realize how hard it would be.

"I knew the consequences. I wasn’t prepared for them in any stretch of the imagination coming into the season," he admitted. "I had my thought process on being able to be a full-time teammate and just go out and have fun and provide a sense of a great brand of basketball out there. Unfortunately, it didn’t happen like that.”

But Irving is looking ahead now. He had a conversation with the team about coming and he said "this is where I always wanted to be."

Of course, it's going to take some time to get his chemistry back with Kevin Durant, James Harden and the rest of the squad. But he's been talking to his other superstar teammates and watching film to see exactly where he needs to fit in right now.

Staying in shape required finding gym after gym, too.

"This is my first time being with other pros on one floor again, playing pickup or just working out," he said. "I’m thankful for everybody that helped me stay in shape during the time – playing in middle school gyms, playing in some college gyms. Trying to keep things as private as possible, but also with the intent to get the most I can out of some of these pickup games. So it was tough and I was resilient, but it’s nothing like being in this environment and playing with the best of the best.”

The Nets next road game is Jan. 5 against the Indiana Pacers, where Irving, who just cleared health and safety protocols himself, should be able to suit up in the black and white once again.