Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving is nearing the completion of the process laid out by team owner Joe Tsai to return to the floor and that return is expected to come on Sunday against the Memphis Grizzlies, per Shams Charania of The Athletic. Irving has already missed seven games, and he will miss his eighth Thursday against the Portland Trail Blazers.
“Kyrie is continuing his journey of dialogue and education,” NBPA executive director Tamika Tremaglio told ESPN on Wednesday night. “He has been grappling with the full weight of the impact of his voice and actions, particularly in the Jewish community. Kyrie rejects antisemitism in any form, and he’s dedicated to bettering himself and increasing his level of understanding. He plans to continue this journey well into the future to ensure that his words and actions align with his pursuit of truth and knowledge.”
Irving was initially suspended for a minimum of five games without pay for posting the link to a film with antisemitic messages on his social media platforms. After several media sessions without an apology, Tsai initially suspended Irving from the Nets and gave him ato complete before he could return to the team:
- Apologize and condemn the film he promoted.
- Make a $500,000 donation to anti-hate causes.
- Complete sensitivity training.
- Complete antisemitism training.
- Meet with the ADL and Jewish leaders.
- Meet with team owner Joe Tsai to demonstrate an understanding of the situation.
However, according to Wojnarowski, that initially rigid list of tasks has “evolved into Irving himself taking ownership of the process” as the union, Nets and NBA have helped work with Irving to “author his own remedies to end the suspension. Irving has met with Tsai and NBA commissioner Adam Silver, who have both said that they do not believe that Irving is antisemitic.
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The Nets have been up and down since Irving was suspended. They won four of their first five games without him while playing their best defense of the season, but on Sunday, lost to the 2-10 Los Angeles Lakers and followed up that defeat by allowing the Sacramento Kings to score 153 points on them Tuesday.
That loss won’t help matters, as the Nets continue to make news off of the court. Since Irving was suspended, the Nets have named Jacque Vaughn their head coach and abandoned their pursuit of former Celtics coach Ime Udoka. The Athletic’s Shams Charania Wednesday that there is frustration in Brooklyn surrounding the availability and performance of former All-Star Ben Simmons, and Kevin Durant about his offseason trade request and the state of the Nets in an interview with Bleacher Report’s Chris Haynes.
The Nets are surely hoping that Irving’s return can lift a team that is currently 6-9 back up to the top of the Eastern Conference. It is now looking as though the beginning of that journey will come on Sunday.