However, it won’t happen on Monday, as the team’s game against the Minnesota Timberwolves was postponed in conjunction with the Twins-Red Sox game also set to take place in the city following the death of Daunte Wright at the hands of a police officer.
Kyrie Irving was set to miss Monday night’s game due to personal reasons, and we do not know if those reasons will continue into Brooklyn’s next scheduled contest. The reason behind Irving’s absence remains to be seen, but it’s worth pondering if it can be traced to him being ejected after he received a double technical following a heated exchange with Lakers point guard Dennis Schroder in the third quarter.
Irving, as we know, has been a polarizing topic of conversation throughout this season for his tendency to pick and choose when to skip games. Fans in Brooklyn will recall him taking an extended leave of absence earlier in the year that saw him miss several weeks.
In normal circumstances, a star player prioritizing his mental health over a largely meaningless regular season game wouldn’t draw much attention.
With Irving, however, it’s an entirely different story and ESPN personality Stephen A. Smith, who called for the All-Star to retire just a few months ago, further proved that to be the case by taking him to task on Monday’s episode of “First Take.”
ESPN pundit Stephen A. Smith blasted Nets star Kyrie Irving for skipping games.
“You only played 20 games last year in Brooklyn,” Smith proclaimed. “You didn’t play in the bubble. Then you come out of it, you didn’t want people to play in the bubble because you wanted folks to focus on other issues and it turns out you got your own issues. Whatever they may be…”
“I mean, how many personal days do you need? You don’t play every day. You’ve got 72 games this year instead of 82. You only played 20 out of 72 last year. What he hell is going on where you’re just missing games?”
We somewhat understand where Smith is coming from in the sense that not every superstar in the league, as much as they might want to sit out a chunk of the regular season, doesn’t have the luxury of taking personal leaves whenever it suits them like Irving.
However, the “First Take” co-host probably should’ve conducted some proper leg work, or perhaps a quick scroll through social media, before flaming Irving to this degree.
Going back to the Schroder altercation, Irving uncorked an impassioned tweet about racial discrimination — more specially, an offensive racial slur that is still rampant in today’s world — following Saturday loss to the Lakers.
We cannot confirm whether this term was uttered during the quarrel with Schroder, but it goes without saying that something unnerved Irving enough to the point where he felt compelled to clarify just how offensive the slur is.
Who knows? Maybe the war of words just helped jog Irving’s memory of how far this country needs to go in terms of weeding out racism. We all know how passionate the seven-time All-Star is when it comes to promoting social change and perhaps he was overwhelmed after the clash.
Whatever the case, Smith eventually became aware of Irving’s post and he, after realizing how insensitive he was being to the Nets star’s situation, took to Twitter to respond to his initial post.
While this certainly can’t be viewed as an apology, Stephen A. deserves some credit (emphasis on some) for acknowledging that he was too quick to eviscerate Irving for missing Monday’s showdown vs the Timberwolves.
At the same time, however, this isn’t our first rodeo with Irving “skipping” games. A veteran like Smith, who’s covered the NBA for dozens of years, should’ve had a hunch that the former No. 1 overall pick’s latest absence involved something much bigger and more pertinent than basketball.