Nets' Kyrie Irving addresses absence: 'I'd be lying sitting here and saying I don't feel what's going on in the world'

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Kyrie Irving during his return press conference
Kyrie Irving during his return press conference

Nets star PG Kyrie Irving addressed the media for the first time on Tuesday since his long absence from the team over the last two weeks.

Irving, who is expected to play Wednesday night against the Cleveland Cavaliers, said he's been deal with "a lot of family and personal stuff."

Here are a few takeaways from Irving's Zoom call with reporters Tuesday:

On fitting back into the mix now that James Harden has arrived

Wednesday looks to be the first time the new Nets Big 3 play together, but James Harden and Kevin Durant have already gotten themselves "reacquainted" to the tune of two Ws, and a combined 138 points and 31 rebounds in those two games.

"It's just really exciting," Irving said. "Just to be able to play with great players that have been here in the league for a while, that have been through ups and downs, through peaks and valleys.

"So James is aligned with us in terms of experience, so adding that to our locker room is going to be great for us."

On support and communication from his teammates and organization

Irving may have texted or been on calls with his teammates during his two-week absence, but he only got to address some of them in person for the first time at practice Tuesday.

"It's been great. It's been enough support for me to feel like they have my back," Irving said. "And that's all I can ask for.

"I just take full accountability for my absence with the guys and just had a conversation with each one of them, and we move on."

On his commitment to basketball

Irving is known for being vocal about politics and social justice, and for his charitable contributions as well — including buying George Floyd's family a house this week. Many suspected that his initial break from basketball was due to the attack on the Capitol at the beginning of the month that was incited by President Donald Trump.

"It's just a separation between what's going on here, when I'm playing professionally and what's going on out in the world," Irving said. "If you don't create that distinction, then it's easy to feel the weight of the world on you when you're going out there and playing.

"I'd be lying sitting here and saying I don't feel what's going on in the world, nor am I paying attention to it. I just have a huge responsibility I feel to continue to serve my community and the underserved, and when I'm out here playing, it's continuing to leave knowledge with these guys and commit to something...bigger than ourselves.

On if he can still find joy in playing basketball

The thing that's pretty interesting in watching when you take a break from everything is there's so many assumptions about what's going on. And so many people who fell that they know me best, and they have no idea who I am," Irving said.

"...I love to play, that's never been a question. I've committed myself when this wasn't even a thing for me. I didn't really care about media. I didn't really care about the fandom. All I really cared about was just the ethics of the game, being taught the fundamentals and now that ti's become bigger and it's more of a responsibility I have in this position I'm in, I'm grateful, because I'm able to stand on this platform with others alongside of me that have sacrificed and are going through similar things. So I'm not alone in this.

"With everything going on in the world politically, socially, like I said it's hard to ignore. I want to make changes daily. There are so many oppressed communities, so many things going on that are bigger than just a ball going in the rim. So it's just the balance of it, knowing I can delegate my responsibilities...."

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