The loss of Irving has been huge and has also come at a very difficult time for the team, as they are trying to establish themselves as the most fearsome team in the East and a true title contender but are working with an aging roster that is prone to injuries.
How did we get to this point and, more importantly, what is to come next?
Irving Says No To The Shots
When the COVID-19 vaccines were first introduced in America they were met with a lot of opinions on both sides of the issue.
Some people were relieved and excited to get their shots while others were cautious and wary of them.
Irving was definitely in the latter camp and sources close to him said he wasn’t willing to get vaccinated.
This put the NBA in a tricky spot because they were trying to be the American sports league with the least amount of infections.
Most everyone else in the association was willing to get the vaccine but Irving was one of the few holdouts.
As the season approached, the Nets were put in a tough position because local laws required any performer needed to be vaccinated.
So their option was to only allow Irving to play in away games and not on their home court at the Barclays Center.
But was that really fair to the other players and would it impact team chemistry?
Because of that, the Nets announced that they would not allow Irving to have “part-time availability” and that he wasn’t welcome back to the team in any way until he complied with New York City’s mandate.
That essentially banned Irving from playing in the NBA and he hasn’t suited up for a game ever since.
The World Reacts
As it is with the vaccines, reactions to Irving’s benching were mixed.
Some people felt the decision was violating Irving’s right to bodily autonomy while others felt it was the best and smartest way to keep the team safe and keep the rules fair.
Sports analysts were constantly talking about Irving’s immediate semi-retirement and it became a hot topic across the country.
"The Brooklyn Nets need to get rid of Kyrie Irving. He got to go!"
— First Take (@FirstTake) October 12, 2021
Some people thought that Irving had officially played his last NBA game while others figured the Nets would trade him at the soonest possible chance.
Now it looks like Irving is returning to Brooklyn.
After a series of injuries and COVID infections that have impacted the team, the Nets are preparing to re-introduce Irving into the team but only for away games and only with an intensive testing regiment.
GM Sean Marks’ statement on the Nets’ about-face that has allowed Kyrie Irving to rejoin the team even though he will only be allowed, under current rules, to play in road games as an unvaccinated player: pic.twitter.com/bcJ3jYPtZH
— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) December 18, 2021
But many questions remain: most notably, will Irving easily slip back into the team’s dynamic again?
It also remains to be seen if the unvaccinated Irving will get infected with the virus as the Omicron variant storms through the country.
One thing is for sure: if Irving plays like he usually does the Nets are about to get a heck of a lot better.