Some NBA fans are not happy with star Kyrie Irving. But the Brooklyn Nets point guard doesn’t seem to be letting them dictate his return to the court.
After not playing in his past three scheduled games, Irving is also listed as out in his team’s Jan. 12 matchup with the Denver Nuggets. The reason the team gave for Irving’s absence thus far is “personal reasons.”
Now video footage has surfaced that appears to show Irving at a large birthday gathering without a mask, causing some to question just what “personal” business Irving is dealing with that prevents him from suiting up.
They said as much under Irving’s recent Instagram post celebrating his father’s birthday.
“Happy Journey around the Sun King! Thank you for the example you set for me. Kings raise Kings,” Irving captioned under a photo of himself and his father laughing on Monday, Jan 11. He received mixed reactions from his over 14 million followers.
Some joined Irving in wishing his father, Drederick Irving, a happy birthday, while others told him to keep that same energy when it was time to play.
“Bro come back kyrie,” one Instagram user said. “Kyrie Irving using his PTO and treating the NBAlike a 9 to 5″ and “pull up 2 your next game,” added two others on Twitter and Instagram respectively. “Skipped games for a birthday party? That’s not King s–t,” another wrote.
Some of Irving’s fans came to his defense.
“Y’all saying this on his post about his pops is disrespectful. HBD to his pops,” one user responded. “Whatever reason you’re not play is yours. Continue to live your life and make decisions you believe is best. Living publicly isn’t for cowards. Salute King!” Twitter user @drsidlifecoach wrote.
Still others felt Irving had no justifiable reason to not play.
“if he doesnt want to play then he shouldnt have signed a contract. If you dont wanna go to work anymore you get cut big homie. As an adult you should be held accountable. You’re saying it’s ok to s–t on contracts and people that you agreed to be a teammate with just cuz he already has money. And I’m telling you that you can be as rich as you want it still doesnt give you an excuse to not fulfill the contract you agreed to if you are healthy enough to do so,” Instagram user @pcecchi1 wrote. “There should be a level of respect between him, his coaches and his teammates. I dont know why I have to explain this to you.”
While rumors have circulated about the actual reason Irving is still out, Nets coach Steve Nash told USA Today Irving was on “personal leave.” “Ky’s still on personal leave and all the communication with Ky, between the organization, I’m going to keep private and I’m sure you’ll hear from him at some point,” Nash said.
His teammate and fellow superstar Kevin Durant said they were in full support of Irving and wished him well. “I won’t speak on Kyrie. I’ll let him do that for himself. I’m sure you guys will see him soon whenever he comes back. We support him 100 percent and pray for the best,” Durant said.
According to Bleacher Report, the NBA is expected to review the video in question and some have speculated whether or not the video is real. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski said sources expect Irving to be absent from at least two more upcoming games.
“As the NBA is expected to begin examining online videos circulating of a maskless Kyrie Irving at a family birthday party, there’s no belief that he will return to the Brooklyn Nets lineup this week,” Wojnaroski tweeted.