In The Nation, the progressive journal of all places, a writer tried to encapsule just who Kyrie Irving is. The description, by Jeremy Gordon, seems both fair and accurate.
“Irving’s rebelliousness often does not seem political, but rather the contrarianism of a dorm room debater who is just asking questions, all of the time.”
He’s not the first writer to try the task. In his book, “Can’t Knock the Hustle,” Matt Sullivan said this of the public Kyrie: he “does whatever is in his soul…. It’s not as meticulously planned, but it’s who he is—it’s outrageously authentic, and it’s supremely Kyrie.”
But there is the private Kyrie as well, a player for the Brooklyn Nets, who by all accounts, is trying to change his narrative, getting back to basketball without abandoning his beliefs ... or debating points.
Nic Claxton said Irving is “bringing a totally different energy this year.” Claxton said Irving’s “definitely been locked in,” and that he’s ready to “change the narrative” on him.
“That’s big for us having him full-time and not having to worry about the COVID stuff,” Claxton said on Monday. “This whole situation over the offseason. Honestly, he’s one of the best teammates I’ve ever had. That might not be the public perception of him but he just wants to clear the air I feel like.”
Asked if Irving could win league MVP, Claxton told reporters: “I think he can be the MVP, he can be the Finals MVP, he can do whatever he wants to do. He puts his mind to it, he can do it.”
He is not alone in believing the best about Irving this time around.
“Kyrie’s been unbelievable,” Steve Nash said after Monday’s practice . “His performances on both ends of the floor have been exceptional. Not just in games, but in practices. I think his leadership and mentorship to the young guys has been great. He’s just been outstanding top to bottom this whole preseason.”
Ben Simmons and Irving have spoken about the advice one guard gave to the other about: just f’ it, face it. Of course, his best friend on and off the court believes in him and what he can do without the COVID vaccine mandate but with generally good health.
“Kai is amazing, talking to everybody, communicating, being one of the heads of the snake on both ends of the floor for us,” Durant said after Monday’s practice. “And we need that talk from everybody, the veteran guys, we need to continue to be in constant communication so we can figure things out on the court. Having a guy like Kai - who’s won a championship, who’s been in those locker rooms and those series - is only going to help us moving forward.”
Irving himself spoke about his desire for “legacy” a couple of days ago, understanding that not just is he on an expiring Nets deal and an expiring Nike deal. It’s about how he will be viewed. He did just turn 30 and now has three children, his first boy being the latest addition to the Irving clan of West Orange, N.J.
“I have great aspirations of leaving a legacy in this league and however many years that takes me is — that’s laid out [ahead of me], but in the meantime, I just want to build with people in this industry and win together,” Irving told Nick Friedell of ESPN Wednesday. “I want this to feel like a dream that we all can share. And that’s not just only with my Nets, but people that we’re going to be going against. It’s going to be fun. It’s going to be a fun ride. So I’m looking forward to that enjoyment as well, more importantly.”
It is easy — and largely advisable — to be skeptical of Kyrie Irving. He himself sorta admits that but if he expressed the commitment, then follows through on it, that would be a very big deal.
- Kyrie Irving is changing the narrative in training camp: ‘He’s just been outstanding’ - Kristian Winfield - New York Daily News
- Kyrie Irving bringing ‘a totally different energy’ to this Nets season - Brian Lewis - New York Post
- Kyrie Irving changes profile from distraction to Nets team leader - Barbara Barker - Newsday