Nets star Kyrie Irving declined multiple requests to talk to the media covering the team on Friday and later issued a statement that implied he might not engage in any interviews this season.
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, no NBA team had a traditional Media Day before training camp began on Tuesday. Instead, the NBA replaced that with what it labeled as "Media Week" before the first full-squad practice on Sunday. The Nets made general manager Sean Marks and new coach Steve Nash available on Tuesday along with superstar Kevin Durant, who sat out last season while rehabbing an Achilles tendon injury and had not talked to reporters since Media Day in September, 2019.
Several other Nets did video interviews with the media on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. But not Irving. Spencer Dinwiddie and Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot fulfilled their league-mandated media obligations on Friday in place of Irving, who is in the second season of a four-year contract worth $136.5 million.
After the Nets’ interview session on Friday, a publicist for Irving issued the following statement:
"A note from Kyrie Irving."
"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.
"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.
"Life hit differently this year and it requires me to move differently. So, this is the beginning of that change."
Although Irving confirmed in his statement that he declined the opportunity to do a media interview on Friday, a Nets spokesman said it would be a mistake to assume he will not speak to the media this season.
In response to a Newsday query, Irving’s publicist said: "This doesn’t mean he won’t do traditional media. He has every intent on building a mutually respectful relationship with the media. This is his first attempt to communicate directly/effectively with the people who cover him the most."
Irving is no stranger to controversy. Three years ago, he engaged in discussion of whether the Earth is flat or round. He later apologized to science teachers, revealing his sense of humor.