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Amar’e Stoudemire tries to clarify ESPN comments on Kyrie Irving and his departure

Brooklyn Nets v Phoenix Suns Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Former Nets Player Development assistant Amar’e Stoudemire revisited and tried to clarify comments he made last week about the Nets, Kyrie Irving, and his departure from the organization. He comments came in a two-minute Instagram video titled “Address the misinformed Media - Words about Nets and Kyrie, Don't let them control the narrative.”

In the video, Stoudemire, who disclosed his departure from the Nets in a nationally-televised conversation with ESPN’s Stephen A Smith on May 12, explained how he didn’t quit on the Nets after two disappointing seasons that both ended with the team failing to get no further than the second round of the NBA Playoffs. The former six-time All-Star said he spoke to Nets head coach, Steve Nash, before going on ESPN.

“I want to clarify something: I’m seeing articles right now popping up saying Amar’e quits the Nets and criticized Kyrie on his way out. That’s not the case,” Stoudemire said. “I spoke with Steve Nash before I went on ESPN.”

During his appearance on ESPN, Stoudemire acknowledged Kyrie Irving’s decision to not get vaccinated played a factor early in the season — “it definitely hurt us,” he said — which impacted the Nets' struggles to find chemistry and cohesion. That eventually led them to a first-round sweep to the Celtics. Stoudemire added that due to Irving’s vaccine status — resulted in different lineups and different matchups weighed by the schedule.

The City of New York’s vaccination mandates held Irving off the Barclays Center hardwood until the closing week of March. Before Sean Marks and the Nets changed their decision at the end of December to let Irving become a part-time player (only playing road games) the Nets guard couldn’t play or practice unless became a full-time participant (vaccinated).

2022 NBA Playoffs - Boston Celtics v Brooklyn Nets Photo by Evan Yu/NBAE via Getty Images

Stoudemire had also said he believed something has to be done contractually with Irving, not just verbally, to get him on the court. Otherwise, he said Irving can “renege” and the Nets would be left without a way to hold him accountable.

The six-time All NBA player said he wanted to clarify those comments in wake of multiple media reports that suggested his comments on ESPN were a shot at Irving on his way out the door from the Nets organization.

“Now criticizing Kyrie, why would I criticize someone who’s as similar as I am? I also fast during the NBA season for Yom Kippur. I’m also a guy who has religious intake,” Stoudemire stated. “I’m also a guy who’s an activist, who speaks about African-American communities. Why would I criticize someone who’s as similar as I am? The media will try to turn your words against your fellow friend or organization to provide more viewers or clicks to their article.

“I’m not going to let that happen. You’re not gonna turn me against Kyrie. You’re not gonna turn me against the Nets. You’re not gonna turn me against anyone. So you can forget about it.”

Meanwhile on his departure from the Nets staff amid rumors that there will be a shake-up, Stoudemire explained that since he can’t work Friday or Saturdays since converting to Judaism in 2020, he felt like he couldn’t grow in the coaching space. Stoudemire is unable to work from sunset on Friday to sunset on Saturday.

In his comments, the former development assistant said that the organization wants full-time people not just players — a remark made by the Nets general manager at his End-of-Season press conference on May 11. Stoudemire called his departure a “mutual understanding.”

“I spoke about me not being able to grow in the coaching space because I don’t work on Shabbat. Not working on Friday night and Saturdays is difficult for anyone to grow in the coaching space because coaching is such a grind. It requires you to be there full-time and so for me, I was unable to grow in that space, so I did not want to continue coaching,” Stoudemire said. “On the flip side, the Nets organization want people who can be there full-time, and I totally understand that, Therefore, it was a mutual understanding between them and I.”

Before clarifying his comments about Irving, Stoudemire called the Nets ‘a beautiful organization,’ explaining how there was no quitting on his side and how there are no hard feelings after his departure. Stoudemire was hired in 2020 by the Nets.

“Beautiful organization. Sean Marks and I are great friends. Steve Nash and I are good friends. I met all the staffing. The organizational employees that work for the Nets are beautiful people. (I) had a beautiful time, an amazing experience with the organization. There’s no hard feeling no way, no how. I was there for two years sacrificing my time away from my family for those two years but still was able to hold down the fort and fulfill my obligation. So there’s no quitting from that standpoint.”