Nets' Kyrie Irving Reflects on 2021-22 Season: 'I Never Felt Like Myself'May 3, 2022
Brooklyn Nets point guard Kyrie Irving has had some time to reflect on the season after his team was swept out of the playoffs.
Irving said on an upcoming episode of The ETCs with Kevin Durant podcast that he never truly felt acclimated to the season after he joined the Nets as a part-time player midway through the year.
"But I never felt like myself throughout the season, because I’m usually sustaining a level of growth throughout the year, instead of trying to catch up with everybody that’s been playing for four or five months," Irving said (h/t Brian Lewis of the New York Post). "They've been at it every day since October or September."
.<a href="https://twitter.com/KyrieIrving?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@KyrieIrving</a> on not being able to play home games throughout most of the season:<br><br>"I never felt like I was 'back.' ... I never felt like myself throughout this season."<br><br>New episode of <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/TheETCs?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#TheETCs</a> drops 5/4. 🎙 <a href="https://t.co/X0yvOgJkxv">pic.twitter.com/X0yvOgJkxv</a>
The Nets entered the 2021-22 season with aspirations of competing for an NBA title thanks to a promising roster led by Irving, Kevin Durant and James Harden. Those hopes were derailed in October because Irving wasn't in compliance with the vaccine mandates in New York City, making him ineligible for home games.
Brooklyn initially sent Irving away from the team before allowing him to return exclusively for away matchups in late December. An injury to Durant and an ill-fated trade of Harden to acquire Ben Simmons, who missed the entire season, didn't help matters.
"I had the opportunity to play away games still, but there was no plan in place, there was no vision of how it's going to work for our team," Irving said. "And I think that really impacted not just me, but a lot of people. So [I] just had to sit; sit in that hot seat for a little bit and deal with it."
The vaccine mandates were eventually amended to allow Irving to play in home games, but the Nets never achieved the chemistry necessary to be a title contender.
In 29 regular-season games, Irving averaged 27.4 points, 4.4 rebounds and 5.8 assists. In Brooklyn's first-round series against the Boston Celtics, his production dropped to 21.3 points per game.
Irving has a $36.5 million player option for next season remaining on his contract, and he indicated last month that he intends to pick it up.