Nets: Is Kyrie Irving’s extended absence out of bounds?

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - JANUARY 03: Kyrie Irving #11 of the Brooklyn Nets (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - JANUARY 03: Kyrie Irving #11 of the Brooklyn Nets (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images) /

Kyrie Irving’s personal leave is leaving a cloud of questions around the Nets.

The Brooklyn Nets managed to take down the 7-1 Philadelphia 76ers despite knowing that they would head into the game without the services of Kevin Durant and Spencer Dinwiddie.

Just hours before the game, however, Kyrie Irving told the team that he was going to sit this game out, confirming that he will also be absent for their road game against the Memphis Grizzlies.

Because Irving has become somewhat of a lightning rod, NBA Twitter had fun ripping him, assuming he flaked on his team in another Kyrie tantrum. Assuming that, however, could be incredibly dangerous, as there are a multitude of reasons he could’ve chosen to sit out.

It’s dangerous to assume Kyrie Irving’s reason for missing Nets games isn’t valid.

In case you’ve well and truly been living under a rock, we are playing basketball in the middle of a pandemic that is seeing cases skyrocket with each passing day. We’re also just days removed from the US Capitol being breached in a move that drew both sharp condemnations and noteworthy protests from the rest of the NBA.

Furthermore, thanks to the brilliant work of players like Kevin Love and DeMar DeRozan, mental health has been put squarely in focus, showing that even the best in the NBA might need some time to decompress.

If Irving cited either of those things as his justification for taking a few days of PTO, would anyone have a problem with it?

Despite the narrative around him, Kyrie isn’t so spaced out that he doesn’t realize the gravity of his situation in Brooklyn. He’s not doing this just because he’s tired or apathetic. While the Nets will have to stomach a few games without him, the expectation is that he will come back completely refreshed and ready to dominate. Doing so will eliminate any doubt that he was taking a few games off to be detrimental to the team on purpose.