Kyrie Irving made a bizarre revelation in his return to Brooklyn on Tuesday night, when frustrated fans sitting courtside questioned why the Dallas Mavericks guard did not perform at the same level while still playing for the Nets last season.
His response was New York City Mayor Eric Adams.
Irving dropped 36 points in the Mavericks’ 119-107 win over the Nets, which prompted some fans to ask, “Kyrie, why didn’t you play like this when you were on the Nets?”
A viral video circulating on social media captured Irving’s blunt response.
“Thank Mayor Adams for that, bro.”
The comment seemingly points to Irving’s turbulent 2021-2022 season when he was ineligible to play in most of Brooklyn’s home games because of his refusal to get vaccinated against COVID-19 as mandated in New York City.
Initially, the team declined to have Irving play in road games until he could be a full participant with the team. He missed the first 35 games of the season, before making his debut in January 2022, when he scored 22 points to help the Nets rally for a 129-121 road victory over the Indiana Pacers.
Last season, Irving was suspended by the team when he refused to apologize for posting a link to an antisemitic work on social media. He was then traded midway through the season to Dallas. He played in just 143 games in his 3 1/2 seasons.
“Obviously I fell short in terms of the championship aspirations, but for me, I think it was bigger than a championship here,” Irving said Tuesday.
“I had to really take some moral stances that propelled me into a place in my life that I had to become accustomed to. There were some political things that were going on here as well that I couldn’t control that I was responsible for. There were some things that I did on my accord that I look back on, and they were mistakes and I have to be accountable for those things. Not perfect, but one thing I can say is I’ve been able to learn from things and continue to push forward.”
Irving noticeably did not get a tribute video from the Nets during introductions, unlike Kevin Durant did last week. He was also met with boos but frustrated Nets fans whenever he had the ball.
“Thank you for everything GOD,” he posted on X after the game. “I gotta stay poised through the chaos and hate. The next generation is watching.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.