With (finally) a little transparency from Kyrie Irving and the Brooklyn Nets, the mystery as to where, when (and how) Irving originally injured his shoulder seems to have been solved.
Irving, who has missed the last 23 games with what the Nets have called a right shoulder impingement, peeled back the curtain a little bit prior to Sunday’s game against Toronto.
In addition to revealing what his rehab has been like, the cortisone shot he received on Christmas Eve, and even the possibility (or likelihood) of surgery, Irving opened up about when he first felt discomfort in his right shoulder. It was earlier than we thought.
Irving said he first felt discomfort in his shooting shoulder during a November 4th home game against New Orleans. In describing the play on which it occurred, Irving told the media,
“One wrong kind of contest on a shot. I think somebody came and blocked it.”
With this new information, I dug a little deeper through the game highlights and play-by-play action that night. Irving said the injury occurred when his shot was blocked; he was only blocked once that night.
With 3:18 remaining in the fourth, Irving was emphatically blocked from behind by New Orleans’ Jrue Holiday at an awkward angle. At first look, it’s not blatantly obvious that an injury occurred, but looking deeper and taking into account what Irving revealed on Sunday, it looks like he’s a bit shaken up after the contact. It even seems like Irving shook his right arm out afterwards.
With 3:18 remaining in the game, Kyrie Irving was aggressively blocked from behind by Jrue Holiday at an awkward angle. It’s not blatant, but it looks like he’s a bit shaken up after the contact.— Billy Reinhardt (@BillyReinhardt) January 5, 2020
This is where the injury occurred; it was the only time KI was blocked that night. https://t.co/Yg1zSKW3FZ pic.twitter.com/mVbAjdO8oW
Irving went on to finish the game, leading the Nets to a 135-125 victory behind 39 points and 9-assists.
Despite the win and strong performance, Irving knew something was up with his shoulder.
“After that game I had our (physical therapists) look at it, then I started wearing tape on that road trip. Then that Denver game was the last game I played. Then it just got progressively worse.”
Irving was obviously impacted by his shoulder discomfort, but chose to play through it anyway, risking aggravation of what, at the time, seemed like a minor injury.
After opening the season scorching hot, Irving fell into a shooting slump during the following four games, the last four games we’ve seen him this season. He shot just 37-for-93 over the four game span, under 40 percent from the field, and 8-for-31 (26 percent) from three point range.
As Irving told the media Saturday, his injury got progressively worse as he tried to play through it and thereafter. He almost certainly aggravated an injury that would’ve responded better to rest.
In fact, it wasn’t until November 13th, the day before Irving’s final game at Denver, that we even heard of Irving’s injury. Irving was listed as “questionable” for the game against the Nuggets but wound up playing, shooting an poor 8-for-20 in a Nets loss.
For an injury that didn’t at first seem serious, Irving has now missed the last 23 games. At this point, Irving acknowledged that he will very likely need to undergo surgery at some point in the future with his status for the remainder of the 2019-2020 season looking bleaker and bleaker.
For a Nets performance team that has a glowing reputation around the league, some fans believe Irving’s injury has been somewhat mishandled since the initial injury occurred on November 4th. Jared Dudley, however, offered a vigorous defense...
No sir, best performance team I’ve had in my 13 year career.. They are on the safe side when it comes to rehab but I can personally vouch for them. From there weekly assessments with your body too testing in the weight room to help strengthen your weaknesses https://t.co/Yjvrf209Ql— Jared Dudley (@JaredDudley619) January 5, 2020
At this point, the Nets and Irving need to hope the cortisone shot he received a few weeks ago can relieve the pain and increase the mobility in his shoulder enough to where Irving can return this season, pushing surgery until the offseason.
If not, fans will be forced to recognize the big picture, immediately turning their attention towards next season. Hopefully then the prizes of the 2019 summer will finally be able to show their worth.