• Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

Kyrie Irving makes Nets home debut in loss, speaks at length about freedom and legacy

·4 min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

For the first time this season, guard Kyrie Irving played a home game for the Brooklyn Nets on Sunday night. The Nets lost his debut, 119-110, to the visiting Charlotte Hornets in what was a tiebreaker game for eighth place in the East standings.

The Hornets are now in the eighth and final spot and the Nets are ninth with only seven games remaining.

Irving, who is not vaccinated against COVID-19, was unable to play in New York City because of the private employer mandate. Mayor Eric Adams announced on Thursday that mandate would be pulled back, opening the door for Irving to return to the court at Barclays Center. He had spent games watching courtside.

After the loss he spoke at length about his views of freedom.

Irving talks freedom after loss

Irving was asked how he wanted his stance against taking the COVID-19 vaccine, which more than 76% of the population has had at least one dose of, to remembered and his legacy. He spoke for more than two minutes.

Irving's comments:

"I made it very clear it was never just about me. I think for my own legacy, that's to be written by all those that I impact and all those that impact me, and it's far bigger than just a basketball game. But when I'm in this locker room, I get a chance to perform with a bunch of guys that are selfless and are sacrificing just as much as I am. It makes it worthwhile. And that's the only thing that I'm really focused on is the now and gettin back ready for the next game and going from there.

"The point of this season for me was never to just take a stand. It was really to make sure that I'm standing on what I believe in, in freedom. Freedom. I don't think that's a word that gets defined enough in our society. About the freedom to make choices with your life without someone telling you what the f*** to do. And whether that carries over into nuances of our society that politicians control or government control or powers that be they control.

"I'm standing for freedom. So that's in all facets of my life. There's nobody that's enslaving me, there's nobody that's telling me what I'm going to do with my life, and that's just the way I am. If I get tarnished in terms of my image and people try to slander my name continuously, those aren't things that I forget. I haven't forgotten anything that anybody said. I don't read everything, but I definitely read some things that put my family's name in a certain position that I believe are unfair.

"I've been discriminated against. People have said things that have been biased. They've gone against their own morals. And where we're living today, I have such a strong moral code of just being honest, being truthful, following God's guidance and just living with the results. But in terms of that, I'm a servant. I'm comfortable being in that position."

Irving has not ever given a clear reason for not receiving the vaccine other than he "wants to be a voice for the voiceless" who are also unvaccinated.

He had a 16-point, 11-assist double-double in the loss. Brooklyn trailed by nine early in the fourth quarter and held a brief one-point lead with less than three minutes to play. The Hornets finished on a 12-4 run.

NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 27: Kyrie Irving of Brooklyn Nets is seen in action during NBA match between Brooklyn Nets and Charlotte Hornets at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn of New York City, United States on March 27, 2022. New York City Mayor Eric Adams announced Thursday the removal of the private sector mandate, clearing the way for Irving to play at Barclays Center and eventually become a full-time player. (Photo by Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 27: Kyrie Irving of Brooklyn Nets is seen in action during NBA match between Brooklyn Nets and Charlotte Hornets at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn of New York City, United States on March 27, 2022. New York City Mayor Eric Adams announced Thursday the removal of the private sector mandate, clearing the way for Irving to play at Barclays Center and eventually become a full-time player. (Photo by Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)