It was typical Kyrie Irving. In his first press conference since being traded to the Mavericks, the now former Nets superstar talked about how he was “disrespected,” not “celebrated” in Brooklyn and how fell victim of a campaign by undisclosed forces aided by the media.
He pointedly did not take responsibility for any of his controversial actions that became more the signature of his tenure than his accomplishments. He did say no one could question his work ethic or his approach to leadership.
Moreover, he had explain why he had recently deleted his apology to Jewish people from his Instagram page, an apology that had been required of him by the franchise after he had posted a video on Instagram that was filled with anti-semitic tropes and falsehoods, sending it rocketing up the Amazon best-seller charts
The deletion of the apology caught the most headlines. It was first revealed by Sam Amick of The Athletic who said the deletion took place sometime before the trade.
“I delete a lot of things on my Instagram,” he told reporters following his first workout with the Mavs in preparation for his debut Wednesday. “I’ve had things that have happened before in my life, probably not as drastic as that moment, which led to a lot of confusion and uncertainty about what I meant and what I stand for.
“I had to sit up in front of these mics and explain to the world who I am and I know who I am. I delete things all the time and it’s no disrespect to anyone in the community. Just living my life.”
Irving added that the deletion did not mean the underlying apology wasn’t heartfelt.
“I stand by who I am and why I apologized,” he said Tuesday. “I did it because I care about my family and I have Jewish members of my family who care for me deeply. Did the media know that beforehand before they called me that word anti-semitic? No. Did they know anything about my family? No. Everything was put out before I had anything to say. I reacted instead of responding emotionally maturely. I didn’t mean to be defensive or go at anybody. I stand by my apology and I stand by my people.”
On his relationship with the Nets, he put the blame for the divorce squarely on the franchise, saying they did not provide “transparency” or “honesty,” that he did not feel “celebrated,” but merely “tolerated” in Brooklyn, and ultimately “disrespected.” He blamed an alliance of the Nets and the media who cover them for much of his troubles. He described his attitude as “selfless in his approach to leadership.”
”I cheer for them,” Irving said of the Nets, “but when things start to change and you’re not given transparency and honesty from people in the front office or people around you — I don’t know what person feels comfortable or confident in that type of environment,” he told the Dallas media.
His comment in response to a question about any talks he may have had with Kevin Durant did not produce a direct reply. KD was supposedly as shocked as everyone when Irving requested a trade on Friday after disagreements on how his contract extension could be structured.
“And again, I don’t want to go into too many details because it’s water under the bridge now. I wish them well. I left them in fourth place,” he said. “I did what I was supposed to do, took care of my teammates, was incredibly selfless in my approach to leading, and I just want to do all the right things for myself — not to appease anybody that had something negative to say about me or judge me.”
He then discussed the media’s role in the process.
“The reporting and the journalism that was going to come out on why I left — I knew that was going to be speculation. But for me personally, sitting in this seat today, I just know I want to be places where I’m celebrated and not just tolerated or just kind of dealt with in a way that doesn’t make me feel respected. There were times throughout this process when I was in Brooklyn where I felt very disrespected and my talent — I work extremely hard at what I do. No one ever talks about my work ethic, though.
“Everyone talks about what I’m doing off the floor, so I just wanted to change that narrative, write my own story and just continue preparing in the gym and now that I’m in Dallas, just focus on what I control,” he said.
In none of his criticisms did Irving name names.
“I think that’s another day where I could really go into detail about it,” Irving said. “I’m not the person to really speak on names and go to someone behind their back and try to leak stuff to the media. That’s never been me. Now I’ve been an audience member, watching people say things about me that ultimately just fall off my shoulder. I’m really in a place that I’m grateful that I got to grow into over the last year and a half, two years.”
Irving is essentially a rental for Dallas. He is playing on an expiring deal. The Mavericks reportedly sought him to give them an immediate boost in the close Western Conference race and lessen the load on their No. 1 option, Luka Doncic.
- ‘A lot of disrespect’: Kyrie Irving starts Mavericks tenure by explaining trade request - Callie Caplan - Dallas Morning News
- Kyrie Irving felt lack of ‘transparency’ by Nets’ front office - Tim MacMahon - ESPN
- Kyrie Irving defends deleting apology for promoting anti-Semitic film - Michael Blinn - New York Post
- Kyrie Irving deletes apology on Instagram, says he felt disrespected by Nets - Barbara Barker - Newsday