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Brooklyn Nets news: Defiant Kyrie Irving calls media ‘pawns’ after NBA fines

Kyrie Irving keeps digging himself a deeper hole when it comes to public perception. Can the Brooklyn Nets rise above his selfish actions?

Jan 31, 2020; Brooklyn, New York, USA; Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving (11) reacts after scoring against the Chicago Bulls during the second half at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

The Brooklyn Nets and point guard Kyrie Irving were fined $25,000 apiece by the NBA after the All-Star refused to meet with the media, which led Irving to make the brilliant, calculated and logical decision to call the media “pawns” in an Instagram story post.

Irving has yet to play a game with fellow superstar Kevin Durant, who are expected to lead a new-look Nets team that will have championship expectations. Even before the tip-off of the 2020-21 NBA season, things aren’t off to a great start.

Brooklyn Nets news: NBA fines team and combative Kyrie Irving

ESPN.com’s Malika Andrews reported on the fines, which are merely the latest subplot in Irving’s perpetually contentious relationship with the NBA media. That fine stems from an incident earlier this month wherein Irving declared his intentions to issue a statement rather than taking questions — an implicit “media blackout” that would result in some kind of disciplinary action from the league office.

Rather than taking a moment to pause, reflect and consider perhaps his course of action was wrong, the omniscient 28-year-old went to social media instead to blast the press and the Association for their actions in passive-aggressive fashion, as transcribed in part by Andrews.

“I pray we utilize the ‘fine money’ for the marginalized communities in need, especially seeing where our world is presently,” Irving wrote on Instagram. “[I am] here for Peace, Love, and Greatness. So stop distracting me and my team, and appreciate the Art. We move different over here. I do not talk to Pawns. My attention is worth more.”

Unnecessary capitalization is Cool!

Again, the hole Irving is digging for himself just keeps going deeper. He’s going to be in the Upside Down, Stranger Things 2-style here pretty soon. All this is doing is sinking credibility with his teammates, if not with Durant, who’s famously reticent to engage in positive interactions with the media. By gosh, these guys deserve each other, don’t they? Why not let another high-maintenance personality in Houston Rockets superstar James Harden join the party.

Related: Las Vegas expecting a James Harden trade to the Nets

Can Brooklyn Nets win a title with Kyrie Irving?

Brooklyn Nets news: Can they win a title with Kyrie Irving?
Feb 1, 2020; Washington, District of Columbia, USA; Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving (11) during the first half against the Washington Wizards at Capital One Arena. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

If Irving is constantly creating distractions like this and picking fights that don’t even need to be happening, it’s just going to heighten the tension around the team. Creating a positive, healthy locker room environment becomes difficult if, around practices and games, one of the great, spherical Earth’s biggest basketball stars is shunning the media from his general orbit.

What kind of message of leadership and accountability might that send? How will teammates feel having to discuss how Irving played in a particular game, since he won’t speak for himself? All of it sounds pretty awkward. Irving, too, checked out during his maiden campaign with the Nets last season, once again struggling to stay healthy. He appeared in 20 contests, and posted solid averages of 27.4 points, 5.2 rebounds and 6.4 assists. Can he get out of his own way and his own head, though?

Already facing heavy scrutiny as a public figure in a big New York market, Irving is also dealing with a new head coach in Steve Nash. The good news is, Nash is a legendary player and Hall of Famer who shouldn’t have to go too far to earn Irving’s respect, lest he view his new coach as a “pawn” who’s trying to vicariously live through his greatness.

Sound harsh? It’s difficult to put that line of thinking past Irving at this point. All that said, Brooklyn has plenty of talent and two legitimate superstars in Irving and Durant who, to their credit, have championship experience. All the makings of an Eastern Conference champion are there. What’s vital is for Irving and Durant to lead with a good example to foster team chemistry, take any unnecessary issues off Nash’s plate and put the Nets in as ideal of a position to flourish as possible.

So far, Irving isn’t holding his end of the bargain in that regard — and it’s already costing himself and the team actual money.