High-profile point guard Kyrie Irving and the Nets organization each have been fined $25,000 for violating NBA rules regarding media interview access, the league announced Thursday night. According to an NBA statement, "the fines result from Irving’s refusal on several occasions this week to participate in team media availability."
When training camps opened for individual workouts starting Dec. 1 and moved to full-team workouts on Dec. 6, every NBA team made arrangements to conduct media interviews with various players, coaches and executives via video news conferences because no members of the news media are permitted inside training facilities to cover practices because of COVID-19 pandemic health protocols.
Every team dispensed with their normal "Media Day" activity at the start of camp and replaced it with "Media Week," which was designed to make a few players available each day along with the head coach. But Irving turned down all requests last week to speak to the media before issuing a statement through his publicist on Dec. 4.
In part, Irving’s statement read: "Instead of speaking to the media today, I am issuing this statement to ensure that my message is conveyed properly.
"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. My goal this season is to let my work on and off the court speak for itself."
Irving’s publicist subsequently told Newsday: "This doesn’t mean he won’t do traditional media. He has every intent on building a mutually respectful relationship with media."
On Friday, Irving issued a response on his Instagram account.
“I pray we utlize the ‘fine money’ for the marginalized communities in need, especially seeing where our world is presently," Irving wrote. "(I am) I am here for Peace, Love and Greatness. So stop distracting me and my team, and appreciate the Art. We move different over here. I do not talk to Pawns. My attention is worth more.”
Prior to the 2019-20 season, Irving signed a four-year deal with the Nets worth $136.5 million, but injuries limited him to just 20 games. He last played on Feb. 1 in Washington and has not spoken to media covering the Nets since then. Irving is expected to play in the preseason opener on Sunday at Barclays Center and traditionally has done post-game interviews, but that might change.