NEW YORK — In lieu of speaking to reporters as a part of media week, Nets guard Kyrie Irving elected to send out a written statement on Friday afternoon.
“Instead of speaking to the media today, I am issuing this statement to ensure that my message is properly conveyed,” the statement said, in part. “I am committed to show up to work every day, ready to have fun, compete, perform, and win championships alongside my teammates and colleagues in the Nets organization.”
Usually, teams select one day ahead of the beginning of training camp and make the majority of their roster available to reporters. The league’s COVID-19 health and safety protocols mandate that only a handful of players are allowed in the practice facility at one time. As a result, teams across the league have done a media week with a few players being made available virtually to reporters each day.
The league’s media policy requires active players to be accessible to reporters at practices and games. Failure to do so could result in a fine.
“COVID-19 has impacted us all in many ways, so I pray for the safety and health of our communities domestically and abroad. I am truly excited for the season to start and I am also praying that everyone remains safe and healthy throughout this journey,” Irving said in the rest of the statement. “… My goal this season is to let my work on and off the court speak for itself. Life hit differently this year and it requires us, it requires me, to move differently. So, this is the beginning of that change.”
Irving played in just 20 games for the Nets in the 2019-20 season because of a shoulder injury. He had surgery to repair his right shoulder in March. Kevin Durant, Cheap DeAndre Jordan Jersey and Cheap Caris LeVert Jersey are among the Nets players that have worked out with Irving during the offseason. All three players noted that Irving looked to be back in pre-injury form.
The Nets begin their group training camp on Sunday and kick off their preseason on Dec. 13.
Cheap Spencer Dinwiddie Jersey made it clear. He’s here to make sacrifices.
“I said it before. I kind of envision myself as that Draymond (Green)––if we’re going to liken ourselves to Golden State and the special things they were able to do. That glue (guy), that multi-purpose guy. I’ve worn a lot of different roles for this team––off the bench, closer, point(-guard), off-the-ball, whatever it may be. That’s just kinda how I view myself. The multipurpose utility guy, help keep the guys together, try to make the sacrifice plays, and help the team win.”
But more importantly…
In response to a question about possibly looking for a bigger role on a different team to fatten his pockets, Dinwiddie exclaimed “I don’t know anybody who takes less than market value to stay on a team, to then want to be traded. That seems like bad business.”
(For reference, the “below market deal” he’s referring to was his three-year, $34 million extension he signed back in December of 2018. At the time, Dinwiddie tweeted “The journey is just beginning. I’m thankful that @brooklynnets believe in me enough to give me a home.”)
After months and months of trade rumors, Dinwiddie shut that question down with a grin on his face––in one clean sweep. He wants to continue to be here, in Brooklyn, competing for a championship, taking on whatever role his team asks of him. I’ll be honest, before Dinwiddie stepped onto the virtual podium… I really didn’t know what to expect. I mean, shoot, during one of his many Twitter gags, the guy fake-traded himself to the Chicago Bulls for crying out loud! Like, the Jim Boylen-era Bulls! Egad!
Instead, Dinwiddie said all the right things. He called Caris LeVert “the third star.” He detailed Brooklyn’s (in his words) “all hands on deck” mentality, arguing that “one player can’t do it on his own… two players can’t do it on their own.”
Oh, and he, well, stated the obvious––but an obvious that needed to be heard!
“Taking the ball out of KD’s hands probably isn’t the best idea.”
Folks, you’re looking at what we in the business call “a trend.” On Thursday, Caris LeVert––who by all accounts is lined up to be the third banana next to Kyrie Irving and Cheap Kevin Durant Jersey––told media that he “love(s) playing off the ball.” As a reminder, here’s his full quote on off-ball play:
“That hasn’t been something I’ve been asked to do at a large volume in the NBA honestly. When I was in college, I did it a lot. I did it very well too so that is something I am looking forward to not only showing people what I can do but just doing it. I haven’t been asked to do that since I’ve been in the NBA so I love playing off the ball. It’s fun for me. I can’t wait to do that this season and it’s going to be very beneficial for all of us.”
LeVert’s evolution as an off-ball player is key to Brooklyn’s success. In March, I mentioned it as one of the biggest question marks when projecting LeVert’s upside as a tertiary star option. For him to not only acknowledge that weakness, but actually revel in its improvement… well, that’s certainly a great sign. LeVert is aware of what it takes to make this thing work. That alone deserves praise.
Even further down the rotation, we saw buy-in from Brooklyn’s understudy options into very specific roles. Cheap Bruce Brown Jersey bragged he “brought a dog mentality.”
Cheap Tyler Johnson Jersey promised flexibility in lieu of what could be an active season of changes. “As far as role goes, I think it is going to change as the year goes on. All I’m waiting for is my opportunity, grab hold of it, and go from there.”
Even Cheap Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot Jersey described his eagerness to fill the gaps for his Nets when meeting with the media just before Dinwiddie: “I know I can help this team win. I think I’m pretty different from anyone else on this team. I can run, play defense, hit shots.”
I can’t stress this enough: guys buying into roles, especially this early in the game, is crucial. Just read up on some of the stories about the Clippers flying around this week. That team never got on the same page from the beginning, and my goodness did it embarrass them in the long-run. (I’m still thinking about the Clippers’ wives and girlfriends dancing on the sidelines before the infamous blown 3-1 lead. That’s tough.)
The Brooklyn Nets, on the other hand, are all on the same page.
For a team like Brooklyn, which had an established hierarchy before either of Cheap Kyrie Irving Jersey or Kevin Durant came into town (similar to the pre-Kawhi Leonard and Paul George Clippers!), it speaks volumes that players like Dinwiddie and LeVert––both of whom have been described as stars and first-options in previous seasons––have expressed such fervent desire to work as ancillary options next to two all-world players.
But it also speaks to Brooklyn’s top-down leadership, which I wrote about yesterday. Clearly, Irving and Durant are doing something to create a culture in which no one is bigger than their roles, while ensuring cohesiveness and togetherness in chasing a collective goal––a championship. Maybe KD really was “looking forward to stepping into this position.” At this point in their journey, there is no jealousy, no competing egos at work, even will all of the trade rumors. Just connectedness, working together like the countless silken threads in a beautiful spiderweb.
On first sight, Brooklyn is working with a pretty unusual roster, stuffed full with guards, isolation scorers, a couple of rolling bigs, and very few defenders. Most will proclaim, “the Nets feel incomplete!” And at a glance, I wouldn’t disagree with them.
But didn’t we do this last year? Didn’t we say over and over again how “the Lakers lacked half-court scorers?” Didn’t we constantly tear down the construction of that roster? And look what happened: They came into training camp with a common objective, committed to a team-wide philosophy of defensive tenacity, cared for one another, and f**king won, in spite of all the doubters…