Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving was introduced over the PA just minutes before tip-off against the Indiana Pacers and he received a mixed reaction as some fans booed him while some voiced their support for him. Irving posted 22 points in his first game of the season as the Nets beat the Pacers 129-121.
"Just a lot of gratitude just to be present tonight with everyone," Irving said. "Just go out there and have fun doing what we love to do. It was a not-so-good first half for us, and we came in the locker room and we knew that in order to build this identity that we want to have later in the season we got to start now."
Irving refuses to talk about the vaccine
Irving was sent home at the beginning of the season after rejecting to take the vaccine. Irving is now serving as a part-time player as she is only allowed to play road games. Irving was asked if his stance on getting the vaccine could change in the future.
"Man, I'm just taking it one day at a time," he said. "Like I said earlier in the season, it's not an ideal situation and I'm always praying that things get figured out and we're able to come to some collective agreement, whether it be with the league or it's just things that's going on that could help kind of ease what we're all dealing with COVID-19 and the vaccine.
"I think everybody's feeling it, so I don't want to make it simply about me and someone lessening the rules for me. I know what the consequences were, I still know what they are, but right now I'm just going to take it one day at a time like I said and just enjoy this time I get to play with my guys.
And however it looks later in the season, then we'll address it then." Meanwhile, Kevin Durant was thrilled to see Irving back to the court. "It was amazing to have him out there," Durant said. "I just missed his presence around the locker room, his energy, his vibe around the team.
And then his game is just so beautiful. It makes the game so much easier for everybody out there. It was amazing to see him out on the floor again. "The crowd showed him so much love, teammates, just the game of basketball is happy to have him back.
He made the game so much more difficult for the Pacers, giving us a different attack, especially in the fourth quarter. We'll just keep building on this."