Last night the Dallas Mavericks took a trip to Brooklyn and beat the Nets, 119-107. Kyrie Irving had himself another tremendous evening, putting up 36 points on 15-of-24 shooting from the floor. As is often the case with Irving, though, the story in the immediate aftermath is about something other than his play.
While waiting to inbound a pass, a courtside Nets fan asked Irving why he didn't play like this when he was part of the team. Irving snapped back that the fan should thank New York City mayor Eric Adams for that.
It feels like ancient history by now but it was only two and a half years ago that Irving was unable to play Nets games because he refused to get vaccinated, a policy Adams put in place. It was one of the very few PR wins for the weirdest mayor New York has ever had and probably the "high" point of his time in office, which is really not a good thing.
This response is also not a good thing and pretty standard Kyrie Irving logic. Kyrie played several seasons for Brooklyn that were not impacted by the vaccine. He was even allowed to play at the end of the season where his vaccination status was a problem! The reason he did not play well for the Nets was because he was hurt all the time, which is not a new thing for Irving. In fact it's funny the fan would even ask this question because his time with Dallas has been extremely similar to his time in Brooklyn (minus the whole vaccine situation)-- he's been as advertised when he's played but has missed nearly half of the season so far with various maladies.
It has become an accepted narrative that Irving's absence for most of the 2021-22 season is what killed the superteam in Brooklyn. That his refusal to get vaccinated led to James Harden becoming unhappy and demanding a trade, as well as a heavier load for Kevin Durant to carry before getting hurt. Obviously that is not Eric Adams' fault. It's Irving's.
But you'll never get him to admit that.