Kyrie Irving slammed over 'delusional' response to NBA 'disaster'

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Pictured here, Kyrie Irving speaking after the Nets suffered a clean-sweep loss to the Celtics in the NBA playoffs.
Kyrie Irving's post-game comments raised eyebrows after the Nets suffered a clean-sweep series defeat to the Celtics in the NBA playoffs. Pic: NBA

Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving has been taken to task by NBA fans after his side's season ended in a disastrous playoff clean-sweep by the Boston Celtics.

Boston became the first team to reach the second round of the postseason with a 116-112 road victory on Monday (Tuesday AEST) that clinched a 4-0 series whitewash.

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Jayson Tatum scored 29 points, Jaylen Brown had 22 and Marcus Smart added 20 points and 11 assists for the No.2-seeded Celtics, who made easy work of what was thought could be a tough series.

For Irving it was the ultimate humiliation, with the star guard famously leaving the Celtics to link up with Kevin Durant and co. in a line-up that many considered to be one of the favourites for the NBA championship before the season started.

However, Irving opted to sit out for large chunks of the season after refusing to get his Covid-19 vaccinations, with the star-studded Nets limping out of the playoffs at the first hurdle.

In a postgame statement divorced from the reality of the daunting failure he played such an outsized role in crafting, Irving announced his intention to exercise his player option to remain with the Nets next season and beyond.

Not only that, he insisted that he and Durant should be calling the shots next season, alongside Nets owner Joe Tsai and general manager Sean Marks.

"I don't really plan on going anywhere," Irving said, addressing his contract situation.

"This is added motivation for our franchise to be at the top of the league for the next few years. I'm just looking forward to the summer and building with our guys here."

Asked for clarification about his future with Durant and the Nets, Irving laid out his plans, which include "managing this franchise."

"When I say I'm here with Kev, I think that really entails us managing this franchise together alongside Joe and Sean, just our group of family members that we have in our locker room and our organisation."

Seen here, Brooklyn's Kyrie Irving warming up before an NBA playoffs game against the Boston Celtics in Brooklyn.
Brooklyn's Kyrie Irving warms up before an NBA playoffs game against the Boston Celtics at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. Pic: Getty

Irving made his declaration without a tinge of irony or acknowledgment that he failed to show up to work for 53 regular season games, largely because of his own decision not to take a Covid-19 vaccine.

Or that it was his self-induced, avoidable absence that can be largely blamed for the Nets being stuck in the position of playing as a No. 7 seed still "trying to gel" in April to begin with.

Not surprisingly, Irving was called out by NBA fans for what many described as a "delusional" response to his side's epic failure.

"Sometimes I feel like the noise on the external world, that outside noise can seep in," Irving continued.

"I'm not the type of person to allow that to happen."

No. No, he is not.

To be fair, Irving didn't completely shirk his role in what happened in Brooklyn this season. When asked directly about how outside distractions affected the on-court product, Irving acknowledged that his impact might not have been all positive.

"I felt like I was letting the team down at a point where I wasn't able to play," Irving said. "We were trying to exercise every option for me to play. But I never want to just be about me. It became a distraction at times."

Back to the drawing board for the Brooklyn Nets

While it's mildly refreshing to hear Irving acknowledge the obvious, absent action that was required months ago to make an impact, it means little. And the actual reality is that the Nets are left with some unanticipated offseason time to get a head start on 2022-23.

Next season — as Irving noted — will likely feature himself, Durant, Tsai and Marks. Will it include head coach Steve Nash? Irving failed to mention his name. But Durant scoffed at the suggestion that Nash might not return, strongly suggesting that the head coach's job is safe.

So the question looms. After this season's abject disaster, who's calling the shots moving forward? As absurd as it sounds considering this season's results, it's difficult to envision this version of the Brooklyn Nets without Irving pulling significant strings. He and Durant built this thing. As long as they're both in Brooklyn together, they'll maintain power.

And while that dynamic may not produce the desired results in the standings and the postseason, it most certainly doesn't produce boring ones.

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