Kyrie’s Part Time Request Denied

Updated: October 12, 2021
2021 NBA Playoffs – Boston Celtics v Brooklyn Nets

As Kyrie Irving resides in the great state of New York, ironically one in which he went through great lengths to migrate to with supposed best friend Kevin Durant, he is now mandated not by the league, but the state and the city to be vaccinated to participate in large gatherings and sporting events. It was reported by coach Steve Nash that the Nets had already accepted the situation and that Irving would not be available for home games and they were in consideration of how to best move forward for the franchise as a whole. Well, after consulting Harden and Durant, the front office and ownership have decided it is in the best interest of the team to not allow Irving to come in and out of the lineup. There are hopes that he will return once he meets the requirements of the state with regards to CV-19 and vaccine regulations in New York.

It’s an interesting move for a couple of reasons. One being, that last year, Irving was the healthiest of the 3 stars in Brooklyn. With Durant’s Achilles, one would assume he would have scheduled load management games on back-to-backs for the rest of his career. Harden has been somewhat of an iron man for the majority of his tenure in Houston, however, has dealt with nagging hamstring and ankle issues since suiting up in the black in white. So, for a team that is a title or bust franchise this season, using Irving to carry the load on rest games for one of the stars on the road would kind of be ideal. The fact that he is unable to practice with the team is really a non-issue since Irving is more of a recluse and this team hardly is one known for its schemes or complex offensive sets and instead leans on its overwhelming talent.

Also in the playoffs, the idea that they would rather head into Philly or Milwaukee without Irving if he is healthy and ready is a bit ludicrous. Sure on a paper based on regular-season numbers they have James, and Harden is clearly a better all-around offensive weapon in comparison to Irving. But if we just went of playoff numbers, Irving may end up being a top 50, top 75 player all time, while James Harden’s playoff performances, particularly in eliminations are downright embarrassing. Especially as a 2nd option, Irving has proven to be a late-game killer in the biggest moments, whereas, Harden has proven time and time again to disappear, as he did in San Antonio, and in Houston against Curry.

But with owner Joseph Tsai being a strong supporter of the pro-vaccination movement in New York, he has made it quite clear what he wants from Irving. And since no pushback has been reported as of yet from Harden or Durant (who are obviously already vaccinated), it appears the rest of the players on the rosters are in agreement that they do not want the distractions of a part-time player. The reports coming out today is that Irving’s stance is less about the vaccine specifically but about government control over citizen’s rights as an individual. Unfortunately for all those hoping for powerful people to join a movement, having Kyrie Irving as the face of a cause is hardly productive considering his public perception and choice of words since making his way to Boston and now Brooklyn.

But all that aside, what does this do for the Eastern Conference? Many talking heads of ESPN, including Zach Lowe on the Lowe Post today, have stated that even without a single basket contributed by Kyrie, they still have the Nets as the favorites to come out of the East. And having possibly the best offseason of all 30 franchises with their free-agent signings, they have a strong argument for why. However, even with Irving removed and not in and out as a part-time participant, this whole thing is going to be an ongoing distraction regardless if he touches the court or not. In comparison, the defending champions out of Milwaukee, look bloody thirsty to prove the chip they just acquired was no fluke accident. And although Giannis won’t say it on the mic, he is a one-man mission to take the crown as King of not only the East but the league as a whole.

Durant and Antetokounmpo could not be any more different…Durant is a purebred scoring monster made in a divine lab of artistic shot-making, Giannis is the worst shooter of any of the top 15 players in this league, and yet, he may be the most unstoppable force at the basket. Durant is on the other side of two major lower-body injuries, on the wrong side of 30, and slight as a popsicle stick, Giannis is in the dead center of his prime, built like a tank, and came back from a knee injury not only immediately, but in such a fashion no one could even tell that had even occurred.

So, one could understand all the faith in the 3-headed monster of top-tier talent in Brooklyn, but with Irving not only out but creating a constant cloud of confusion in Brooklyn, the mentally driven Milwaukee roster looks like the team built for the Finals. If it was a regular-season series, Harden and KD are overwhelming favorites, but in the playoffs, give me Middleton over Harden as a 2nd option especially with the confidence he just acquired in winning his first title.

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