Kyrie Has Odd Reason for Not Playing Against Sixers

Kyrie Irving

Getty Kyrie Irving stands for the National Anthem before a matchup with the Washington Wizards.

After losing four of their previous five games the Brooklyn Nets seem to be back on track as they have now won their last two games. The Nets beat the 7-1 Philadelphia 76ers in dominant fashion on Tuesday with a 122-109 victory. Brooklyn sharpshooter Joe Harris led the way for the Nets with 28 points and six three-pointers. Even more impressive than the victory itself might have been the fact that the Nets were without Spencer Dinwiddie, Kevin Durant, and Kyrie Irving while the Sixers had a fully healthy roster.

Kyrie Didn’t Play for Personal Reasons

As Nets fans know Spencer Dinwiddie has been ruled out for the remainder of the season with a partially torn ACL and Kevin Durant will be out until at least next week in compliance with the NBA’s COVID protocols. Kyrie Irving was a surprise late scratch for Thursday’s matchup against the Sixers and had an interesting reason for not playing in the game.

Why didn’t Irving play in Thursday’s game against Philadelphia? We’ll he just did not feel like it a source close to the situation told Heavy’s Brandon ‘Scoop B’ Robinson. Scoop B also clarified that it was less about Irving not wanting to play in the game and more about Irving taking some personal time to preserve his mental health. Robinson also cites how Irving took a personal day after the tragic death of Hall of Famer Kobe Bryant last year. The two had a remarkably close relationship and Kyrie even has been working on music in which he mentions Bryant and his daughter Gianna who also died tragically in a helicopter crash last year.

The NBA Has Gotten Serious About Mental Health

The NBA has been a major supporter of mental health amongst players. In 2018 the National Basketball Player’s Association launched a mental health and wellness program to provide players with access to mental health counselors. Also, the National Basketball Association has mandated its Rookie Transition Program to put greater emphasis on mental health education as well as updated its mental health policies to complement the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. “Given the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, taking care of one’s mental health and having access to resources are important aspects of managing the feelings of anxiety, uncertainty, and stress that have characterized much of 2020 and will in all likelihood be present during the 2020-21 season,” the league wrote in a memo obtained by The Associated Press.

Irving and The Nets Are Playing The Long Game

Irving is also coming off major off-season shoulder surgery and Nets coach Steve Nash has the task of load managing him. Irving has already sat the second half of a back-to-back once this season due to rest. Tonight’s game against the Sixers was the first half of a back-to-back as the Nets will travel to Memphis tomorrow to take on the Grizzlies.

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Both Nash and Irving have harped on the fact that although they are taking things game by game the team is focused on the long haul. Still, Irving being healthy and deciding to not play a national television game may not bode well with the league office. Kyrie and the Nets have already been fined $25k each this year for Irving’s refusal to talk to the media. It will be interesting to see if more fines are forthcoming for his decision to sit out.

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