Kyrie Irving acknowledged the off court issues with which the Brooklyn Nets dealt took a toll on the team and affected their play on the floor. Irving's vaccine drama, James Harden wanting out, Kevin Durant suffering an injury in January, and then Ben Simmons not being ready to play, it all affected the Nets negatively.
On Monday, the Nets suffered a 116-112 loss at Barclays Center as the Boston Celtics swept Brooklyn to advance past the first round. "I think it was just really heavy emotionally this season," Irving said, per ESPN.
"We all felt it. I felt like I was letting the team down at a point where I wasn't able to play. We were trying to exercise every option for me to play, but I never wanted it to just be about me. And I think it became a distraction at times.
And as you see we just had some drastic changes."
Irving: Having SImmons would have helped for sure
Once it became clear Harden wanted out of Brooklyn, the Nets decided to move on from Harden as they traded the former NBA MVP to the Philadelphia 76ers and one of the players they received in return was Simmons.
Simmons, who was initially expected to make his Nets debut in March, ended up not suiting up even once this season. "We lost a franchise player [in Harden] and we got a franchise player back [in Simmons]," Irving said.
"But we didn't get a chance to see him on the floor. There was no pressure for [Simmons] to step on the floor with us either. Ben's good. We have Ben, we have his back. He's going to be good for next year. But now we just turn the page and look forward to what we're building as a franchise and really get tougher.
... "That's why I said it's some added motivation when you get swept like this. Didn't necessarily play as well as I would have liked, but now we just look for the future as a team and what we can accomplish for the next few years, and I get excited about that."
When it comes to his future, Irving made it clear he plans to stay with the Nets. "There's no question about where I'm going and how this is going to happen," Irving said. "I'm here with [Durant], but also I'm here to build a great team.
I've averaged this many points, done this many things. Individually, been recognized for my greatness, but at this point in my career, I really just want to be part of a great team. And just dominate that way and not really focus on any individual accolades and achievements.
Just really build something special -- that's my focus going into the summer is just building with my teammates."