It’s been a revolving door for the Nets’ superstars all season. Kevin Durant, James Harden and Kyrie Irving have all dealt with some combination of injuries and off-the-court issues that have prevented them from spending much on-court time together.
Brooklyn’s Big Three has played only seven games together since the team acquired Harden through a four-team trade in mid-January.
This week, with both Durant (thigh) and Harden (hamstring) sidelined due to injury, the spotlight was Irving’s for the taking. And after leading the Nets to a 134-129 win against the New Orleans Pelicans on Tuesday, Irving was featured on the TNT broadcast with a postgame interview, during which he was asked a revealing question.
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How Kyrie Is Honoring Dr. J
Irving’s TNT interview on Tuesday concluded with a non-basketball question: What made the 29-year-old decide to grow out his fro?
A laugh escaped Irving.
“I’m not the only Irving that ever had the fro,” he said, referencing NBA legend and former Net Julius Erving. “Shout out to my man Dr. J for that, man. But honestly, I’ve had my fro all throughout my life, just now you see it on the big stage.”
What made you go with the FRO?
“I’m not the only Irving that ever had the fro, shout out to DR J.” – Kyrie Erving
VIA: TNT NETS POSTGAME pic.twitter.com/6iyP4OeqGQ
— 𝙹𝚎𝚛𝚒𝚃𝚜𝚊𝚒𝙽𝚎𝚝𝚜 – 👁️💲🧔🏿 (@JeriTsaiNets) April 21, 2021
Kyrie has always had a deep admiration for Dr. J. Last season, Irving’s first with the Nets, he referenced Erving — and the two ABA titles that Dr. J won with the then-New York Nets in 1974 and 1976 — when discussing Brooklyn’s hopes of winning a title.
“It’s not a coincidence that the last time the Nets won a title, they were led by Julius Erving,” Irving said in January 2020, via NBA reporter Michael Lee. “And now, we have another Irving. I’m just saying.”
For his part, Dr. J has similarly held Irving in high esteem.
“When I watch him play, I see he’s a guy who has no limitations, he’s supremely confident and he is skilled beyond belief,” the Hall of Famer told cleveland.com in 2017. “When he has those one-on-one situations and he gets low and he’s handling the ball, there’s no one on the planet that can stay in front of him.”
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Kyrie Focused on Nets Getting Healthy
Some nights, the battered Nets are able to grind it out — like on Tuesday, when, despite being severely shorthanded, the Irving-led Nets found a way to win. Irving dropped 32 points in that five-point win over the Pelicans.
Then there are other nights, when the injuries add up and Brooklyn is outmatched — like on Wednesday when the Toronto Raptors won 114-103, taking advantage of a Nets team that was playing without two superstars.
“We’re doing the best we can,” Irving said, via TNT. “We just want to come out here, play with great energy and be there for one another. We had nine active live bodies (on Tuesday against the Pelicans). So we were just doing our best. It could go either way. … It could go really good, or really bad. So tonight (Tuesday), I’m glad we battled through.”
When the Nets are finally healthy, where does Kyrie want to see the Nets improve?
“Just raising our level of focus and paying attention to the small details,” he said. “We obviously have the talent, we’re able to move on the floor, we’re able to do some good things, but what it’s going to come down to is possession by possession and who’s going to take advantage of them. … So we just have to stay focused. And I want to see us raise our (game) even more so, but we just need everybody healthy first.”
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