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Irving has missed Brooklyn’s past three games for undisclosed personal reasons and has been ruled out for Tuesday’s game against the Denver Nuggets under the same circumstances. According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the Nets also expect Irving to miss the team’s two remaining games this week, at a minimum.
Meanwhile, the NBA is launching an investigation into a video of Irving allegedly attending a family birthday party without a mask, per Yahoo Sports’ Vincent Goodwill. Irving’s father and sister both have birthdays this week. Video circulating on social media Monday appeared to show Irving and his sister at a birthday party.
Videos have surfaced of Kyrie Irving at a large birthday gathering alongside his sister, Asia.
Kyrie’s sister & dad have birthdays this week.
Given the size of the gathering & now public nature of it, Kyrie might now have to undergo a quarantine period before returning. https://t.co/McrYtFH9XK pic.twitter.com/U4T1KAvMTl
— Billy Reinhardt (@BillyReinhardt) January 12, 2021
The Nets later released a statement from general manager Sean Marks saying the team is working with Irving and the NBA in the investigation. Marks confirmed that Irving remains away from the team, but said the star’s return date is not finalized.
Statement from Brooklyn Nets General Manager Sean Marks: pic.twitter.com/2obJ4zwzgU
— Brooklyn Nets (@BrooklynNets) January 12, 2021
When asked on Tuesday if he expects Irving to return this season, head coach Steve Nash responded “sure” while adding that he’s focused on Brooklyn’s game against the Nuggets.
Irving first missed last week’s game against the Philadelphia 76ers for personal reasons unknown to Nash during a pregame media session. In the hour before tipoff, Nash said of Irving’s absence, “I don’t know. I just found out. I just sent him a message in the last half hour. I haven’t heard back yet.”
Irving’s public comments are limited to a birthday note to his father on Instagram. Nash had no timetable for Irving’s return prior to Sunday’s loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder, telling reporters, “All the communication between Ky and the organization I’m going to keep private. I’m sure you’ll hear from him at some point.”
The Nets (5-6) have fallen below .500 following consecutive losses. Brooklyn star Kevin Durant returned to the lineup Sunday after missing a week under the NBA’s health and safety protocols. He reportedly had close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19. Depending on the reported forthcoming NBA investigation into Irving’s off-court whereabouts, coronavirus concerns could also restrict the All-Star point guard’s availability beyond Saturday’s nationally televised game against the New York Knicks.
According to SNY TV’s Ian Begley, the Nets are concerned Irving “won’t be back anytime soon” and could miss games beyond this weekend, regardless of any potential violation of the league’s protocols.
“I won’t speak on Kyrie. I’ll let him do that for himself,” Durant told reporters after Sunday’s loss. “I’m sure you guys will see him soon whenever he comes back. We support him 100 percent and pray for the best.”
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