Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving broke his media silence on Monday, explaining why he had recently refused to speak to reporters, something that landed him a $25,000 fine from the NBA.
“The focus is on what’s going on in here,” Irving said. “And I wanted to make sure that was clear, no distractions, nothing about dispelling anything, nothing about going back and forth.”
Irving, one of the most high-profile players in the NBA, was fined $25,000 by the league when he refused to speak to the media during training camp. Healthy players are required by league rules to be available to the media after practices and games.
“It’s really just about how I felt about the mistreatment of certain artists when we get to a certain platform of when we make decisions within our lives to have full control and ownership ... We want to perform in a secure and protected space,” he said on Monday, adding his silence was not meant as an attack on journalists.
Last week, the 28-year-old reacted to the fine in an Instagram post. “I pray we utilize the ‘fine money’ for the marginalized communities in need, especially seeing where our world is presently... I do not talk to Pawns,” he said. “My attention is worth more.”
Irving also went back on comments he made in October when, after the appointment of Steve Nash as Nets head coach, he said he did not “really see [the team] as having a head coach.”
“Steve’s been amazing,” Irving, a six-time All Star, said on Monday. “He kind of commands the respect. I think I’ve got to take back my comments in terms of the head coach back a few months ago. But it’s just like, man, we have such a great synergy. Everyone feels like we’re coaching one another to be better, so I’m grateful for that.”
The Nets last won a playoff series in 2014, but that is expected to change this season as Irving teams up with 10-time All-Star Kevin Durant who, like Irving, is returning from injury. The pair looked sharp when they played together in a pre-season game on Sunday.
“It’s a different show, it was a different stage, and it’s a new beginning in terms of what we’re building,” Irving said. “And moving forward with the pieces that we have here. And that includes 7-11, so get to know us.”
The Nets start their season against Durant’s previous team, the Golden State Warriors, on 22 December.