Kyrie Irving returns to Brooklyn Nets after serving 8-game suspension



CNN

Kyrie Irving’s eight-game suspension ended Sunday when the star point guard suited up for the Brooklyn Nets’ game against the Memphis Grizzlies.

Irving hasn’t played for the Nets since Nov. 1. The Nets suspended Irving on November 3 after he tweeted a link to a document containing anti-Semitic messages, followed by an initial refusal to apologize.

Irving has since apologized several times, including during Sunday’s pregame media availability.

“I just want to deeply apologize to everyone who has been affected in the last few weeks, specifically my Jewish relatives, my black relatives, all races and cultures,” Irving said Sunday. “I feel like we’ve all felt the impact and I don’t stand for anything close to hate speech or anti-Semitism or anything that’s ‘anti’, against the human race.”

“I feel it was necessary for me to stand in that place and take responsibility for my actions,” Irving said.

Irving received a warm welcome from the Brooklyn crowd during the player introductions before tipoff. He finished the night with 14 points and five rebounds in the Nets’ 127-115 win over the Grizzlies.

Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving, left, dribbles against Memphis Grizzlies forward Jake LaRavia during the first half, Sunday, Nov. 20, 2022, in New York.

Irving said after the game that “it felt good” to be back on the court.

“I missed my teammates,” Irving told reporters. “The coaching staff was missing. Just getting ready with them in the morning and getting ready for the game was a good feeling.”

When asked if he would appeal his suspension, Irving said he would leave that decision up to his legal team.

“I have some strong people around me, men and women, who will do everything in their power to make sure that I’m protected, my family is protected and we protect each other, so I’m sure there will be some things in the future ,” Irving said. “There’s no timetable for that right now.

Before Sunday’s game, Nets coach Jacque Vaughn had no qualms about his decision to put Irving on the floor to start the game.

“He will start and we will see how his fitness is, the pace of the game we want to play. I’m excited to have him back on the floor with our group and he’ll fit right in,” said Vaughn.

During an interview with SNY’s Ian Begley on Saturday, Irving said he reacted emotionally to being called “anti-Semitic.”

“I felt like I was protecting my character and I reacted purely out of defense and just hurt that I might be labeled or I thought I was labeled as anti-Semitic or anti-Jewish and I felt that it was just so disrespectful to ask me whether or not I was anti-Semitic,” Irving said.

The Nets’ next scheduled game is Tuesday at the Philadelphia 76ers.

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