‘I Understood Their Decision’: Kyrie Irving Rejoins Nets, Practices On Wednesday

After months of drama, All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving has rejoined the Brooklyn Nets.

Irving practiced for the first time on Wednesday, joining his Brooklyn teammates for the first time since the Nets organization shelved him in October. At the time of the announcement, Brooklyn general manager Sean Marks said Irving would not be part of the organization “until he is eligible to be a full participant.”

By “full participant,” Marks was referring to Irving’s inability to play in Brooklyn’s home games due to remaining unvaccinated, something that is not allowed under local New York City regulations. But injuries and COVID-19 hit the Nets particularly hard, forcing Marks and the Nets to do an about face regarding Irving’s position on the team, now allowing him to be a part-time player for Brooklyn’s remaining road games.

On Wednesday, Irving told reporters he understood the initial decision by the team, saying that while he was aware of the consequences that came with remaining unvaccinated as a member of the Brooklyn Nets, he was not prepared for the real life ramifications of his decision.

“I understood their decision, and I respected it and tried not to become too emotionally attached to what they were deciding to do,” Irving said according to Alex Schiffer of The Athletic. “I had to sit down and really evaluate things and see it from their perspective, meaning the organization and my teammates. I just really empathized and understood their choice to say, ‘If you’re not going to be vaccinated, fully vaccinated, then you can’t be a full participant.’ I knew the consequences. I wasn’t prepared for them by no stretch of the imagination. Coming into the season, I had my thought process on being able to be a full-time teammate and just go out and have fun and provide a great brand of basketball out there. But unfortunately, it didn’t happen like that.”

Irving will be eligible to play beginning Wednesday, January 5, when the Nets travel to play the Indiana Pacers. Whether he plays or not will depend on his conditioning, according to Nets head coach Steve Nash.

“How does he recover from today?” Nash said. “How many high-intensity (practices) does he need to feel comfortable, confident from a personal standpoint — for Kyrie, for the performance team and all those different measures? It’s still a shifting landscape.”

The Nets have 24 road games remaining on their regular season schedule, but two of those games will be played against the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden where Irving is not eligible to play, and one will be in Toronto when Brooklyn travels to play the Raptors on January 26. All NBA players must be vaccinated in order to travel to Canada beginning January 15.

Brooklyn has managed to play well without Irving, getting off to a 23-9 start, and the addition of Irving will allow Nash to rest Kevin Durant at times. Durant is averaging 37.0 minutes per game.

“It felt like it’s been a long time,” Irving said. “It’s only been three months or so, but it’s felt like the days have been slowly crossed off the calendar while I’m sitting at home. When I thought about it last night, I could barely sleep.”

Joe Morgan is the Sports Reporter for The Daily Wire. Most recently, Morgan covered the Clippers, Lakers, and the NBA for Sporting News. Send your sports questions to sports@dailywire.com.

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