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Days off help Nets cope with the grief of loss

Atlanta Hawks v Brooklyn Nets Photo by Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images

The Nets don’t play again until Wednesday night, three days after the helicopter crash that killed Kobe Bryant and his daughter ... and their loss to the Knicks. The respite should help deal with the grief and depression that comes with the death of a loved one, a friend.

There was no practice on Monday and no one on the team had heard from Bryant’s close friend, Kyrie Irving, for much of the day. After hearing the news, Irving left Madison Square Garden and did not return, his absence excused. He was not alone. Chris Paul was excused from playing on Monday night.

As Brian Lewis reported...

As of late Monday morning, sources say Irving hadn’t been in touch with his teammates. As of late afternoon, it was unclear if he would be at Tuesday’s practice, as the Nets prepare to host Detroit on Wednesday.

For Irving, this will mark the second season where he will have faced a great personal loss. Last season, in Boston, he lost his grandfather early in the year. He has said the Nets family atmosphere was a big reason he chose Brooklyn.. On Media Day, he acknowledged he should have sought counseling. There’s no indication whether he has sought it this time.

He admitted back in September that the loss of his grandfather affected the remainder of his season and he should have spoken to a professional, as Lewis recounts.

“After he passed, basketball was the last thing on my mind. So a lot of basketball and the joy I had for it was sucked away from me and it was a facial expression that I carried around with me throughout the year, Didn’t allow anyone to get close to me … and it really bothered me. I didn’t take the necessary steps to get counseling or get therapy or anything to deal with someone that close to me dying.

“So you tell me if you would want to go to work every single day knowing that you just lost somebody close to you, doing a job every single day that everyone from the outside or anyone internally is protecting you for: Just keep being a basketball player. Throughout that year just being rocky a lot of the battles I thought I could battle through in the team environment, I just wasn’t ready for. And I failed those guys.”

The loss now of course is different and Irving understands grieving a little better. Moreover, the Nets have their own psychological counselor, but loss is loss and the Nets organization and his teammates seem willing to give him time to recover. How much? We don’t know.

Meanwhile, Kendrick Perkins, Kevin Durant’s former teammate and erstwhile friend, reached to KD on Twitter (of all places) in an effort to restore their relationship. While the two had been seen as close, Perkins had strained their ties when he first claimed that Irving had timed his injury to avoid playing in Boston then engaged in an ugly battle on social media in which he claimed Durant had abandoned OKC in a “weak move” to Golden State.