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NBA

No vaccine, and loss, no problem for Nets' Irving on home return

Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving said his home return meant more than the game of basketball after a 119-110 loss to the Charlotte Hornets.

Update:
No vaccine, and loss, no problem for Nets' Irving on home return
Mark Brown/Getty Images

Kyrie Irving believes his return to home games for the Brooklyn Nets transcends his status as a basketball player.

Irving grounding himself

The unvaccinated Irving made his season debut in January, when a covid-19 outbreak forced the Nets to field him on a part-time basis, having initially chosen not to.

New York City vaccine mandates still barred the 30-year-old from playing the Barclays Center, but last week's easing of those mandates allowed for a return to action on his home floor.

Following the 119-110 loss to the Charlotte Hornets, Irving wanted to bring matters into perspective.

"I was just trying to ground myself as much as possible today and just prepare for the warm reception from a lot of supporters of the organisation, of me, just the journey thus far," he said post-game.

"So I don't take it for granted what happened tonight, it was historic. I'm grateful I got a chance to be out there with my brothers and just leave it all out there."

Irving received a hearty reception from the home crowd as he was introduced in the starting lineup, in what was the Nets' second game of a back-to-back.

The former All-Star struggled to find rhythm despite his 16 points and 11 assists, going six-of-22 from the field and making one out of nine attempts from the perimeter.

But Irving spoke afterwards about how his stance against the vaccine meant his return was not simply about him or the game of basketball.

"Tonight my presence out there was just bigger than the basketball game," Irving said. "I was just representing a lot of individuals that are out there in a similar situation as me.

"And now that I can play, I think we should be opened up for everybody.

"I made it very clear it was never just about me. I think for my legacy, that's to be written by all those that I impact and all those that impact me, and it's far bigger than just a basketball game.

"But when I'm in this locker room, I get a chance to perform with a bunch of guys that are selfless and are sacrificing just as much as I am. It makes it worthwhile."

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