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Kyrie Irving: ‘It’s okay to be human’

New York Knicks v Brooklyn Nets Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images

In his first comments since the Jackie MacMullan ESPN story on how the Nets have “unspoken concerns” and his “mood swings,” Kyrie Irving told reporters that “It’s OK to be human.”

The MacMullan story which dominate the three days off the Nets had between games this week painted Irving not just as “moody” but in some cases unwilling to go along with Nets team procedures. Kenny Atkinson and his teammates dismissed any concern saying there’s always “give-and-take” when a superstar (or two) join a team.

Irving’s comments were short and came in a post-game interview. Here’s the video...

“Human beings have mood swings. You go home and you’re not happy with things or mad about something, that’s a mood swing. It’s OK to be human,” Irving said. “I don’t have to be perfect for anyone here, nor do I have to be perfect for the public so I’m not here to dispel any perception. I’m just here to be myself.”

“That’s the world we live in. … That’s what goes back to the importance of self-love. Who cares what ESPN says or anybody said, I love myself, I love my family, I love my friends, I love playing basketball,” Irving added. “Why would you ever care about that? I think I fell victim to that in my past, worrying about things that I can’t control.

“History has shown you can be the best teammate ever, somebody is still going to say something negative about what you’re doing or your life. That can’t be the importance: If you allow that to infiltrate your life … you’re going to be right where they want you to be emotionally. … I expect people to say things like that and I’m going to keep on smiling and doing me.”

In fact, in podcasts both before and after the story, MacMullan noted how happy Irving is and how he’s committed to the Nets,

“I was in Brooklyn for about four days and he’s happy as I’ve seen him, maybe ever,” said MacMullan in talking with Mina Kimes on Wednesday.

She also credited him with helping out other, younger players, something everyone from Caris LeVert to Jaylen Hands has talked about.

Kenny Atkinson also spoke (again) about the controversy, telling reporters before the Pacers game that he didn’t feel the need to speak with Irving about the story. He once again denied any concerns and called his experience coaching Irving excellent.

“No, that thing is two things. I’ll double-down, or triple-down on what I said. That’s where I am,” said Atkinson. “As far as that, I know all these elite players, not just Kyrie, they’re used to the scrutiny and that’s just part of the business. That’s just what it is. I didn’t feel the need to talk to him about it.”

The Nets play the Rockets, with their often moody superstars, James Harden and Russell Westbrook, Friday in Brooklyn.