Nets’ Kyrie Irving ends media boycott, praises Nash’s coaching acumen

Kyrie Irving talks with the media about his ‘pawns’ remarks in his first media availability of the NBA season.

As thrilling as the Brooklyn Nets are projected to be on the basketball court, the personalities off of it — namely those of star duo Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant — are expected to be just as intriguing.

That’s an estimation that has been upheld to this point in the young season, with Irving making himself available to speak to the media on Monday for the first time this year.

Typically, that would be a mundane proclamation, but Irving dodged every previous availability he was meant to take part in since training camp began, and opted instead to release a written statement back on Dec. 5 in an attempt to get his message across more clearly. That led to the NBA fining both him and the Nets $25,000 each, and Irving to respond by posting on Instagram calling for the money to go to charity and apparently designating the media as “pawns.”

“The focus is what’s going on and asked here at my job. I wanted to make sure that that was clear,” Irving said when asked to expound upon his earlier written comments. “No distractions, nothing about dispelling anything, nothing about going back and forth, nothing about calling out one person or another, not even to refer to [the media] as pawns. It’s just really how I felt about the mistreatment of certain artists, when we get to a certain platform, when we make decisions within our lives to have full control and ownership.”

Whether or not Irving meant to take a dig at the media, the recent commotion is a lot to be dropped on any head coach before even a single meaningful game has been played, let alone a rookie still getting his feet wet. And new bench boss Steve Nash was quick to admit on Monday that a more experienced version of himself might’ve handled the circumstances differently, with the current iteration having chosen to give Irving his space.

“I didn’t talk to him about the media situation,” Nash said. “Maybe I should’ve. Maybe if this was Year 2 or 3, I would’ve.”

Even so, Nash didn’t seem at all perturbed when talking about his budding relationship with the mercurial point guard.

“He’s been unbelievable in camp, he’s been a leader,” Nash said. “It’s been unbelievable watching him play every day. … From a coaching standpoint our relationship has been unbelievable and it’s just going to grow.”

Irving, too, had only positive things to say about the former two-time MVP and Hall of Famer, whom the Nets are hoping can bring out the best in Irving’s score-first game.

“Steve’s been amazing,” Irving said. “It really is a reflection of the type of person he is and the IQ he has for the game. He commands the respect and it’s not through just coming in and being a typical rah-rah coach, being all on us, it’s just giving us a comfortable space to grow, to communicate, to throw ideas out there.

“You got a two-time MVP coaching me. You know, I think I gotta take back my comments in terms of the head coach from a few months ago.”

Those comments, which came on a podcast, included Irving stating that he didn’t “really see us having a head coach” soon after Nash was hired, leading many to speculate that the Canadian great might be in for a long season.

No matter where Irving has played throughout his career, an off-court turbulence has followed. Whether it be his clashes with LeBron James in Cleveland or his attempts to be a leader in Boston, things have always reached a breaking point.

But, perhaps, now on a team with some of his good friends in Durant and DeAndre Jordan, and with one of the greatest point guards of all-time as a coach, Irving can find a new level of comfortability to match his immense on-court talent.

“Kyrie is much easier to coach than play against,” Nash said with a laugh. “He’s so gifted, intelligent, creative, his skill level is off the charts. … I don’t remember him being quite as explosive as he’s been. He was a good athlete but he’s been really impressive in his ability to close distances, create space, explode into gaps and stuff. He looks incredible, so he’s fun to watch and fun to coach.”

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