Nets' Kyrie Irving on NBA 75 Snub: My Authentic Community Will Accept My Greatness

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured Columnist IVMay 4, 2022

BROOKLYN, NY - APRIL 25: Kyrie Irving #11 of the Brooklyn Nets smiles during Round 1 Game 4 of the 2022 NBA Playoffs on April 25, 2022 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2022 NBAE (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)
Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images

Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving is accustomed to being snubbed, and he believes being left off the NBA's 75th Anniversary team is just the latest example.

"I'm used to this since seventh grade when I was called a weirdo and sat in the cafeteria by myself," he said on the Boardoom's The ETCs podcast (h/t Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News). "I don't mind it. Because along the way I'm going to find my authentic community that accepts me for my greatness."

The challenge of any list like the 75th Anniversary team is how difficult it is to compare players across different generations when the level of competition, rules and speed of the game were all different.

Yet some of Irving's contemporaries were included on the team ahead of him, which makes direct comparisons easier.

Some were obvious decisions, such as LeBron James, Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant and Chris Paul, but Irving may have a case when compared to players such as Anthony Davis and Damian Lillard.

The Nets guard is a seven-time All-Star, three-time All-NBA selection, former NBA champion and Rookie of the Year who is widely regarded as one of the best ball-handlers in league history. He also made one of the NBA's most famous shots when he drilled what proved to be the winning three-pointer in Game 7 of the Cleveland Cavaliers' victory over the Golden State Warriors in the 2016 NBA Finals.

By comparison, Lillard is a six-time All-Star, six-time All-NBA selection and former Rookie of the Year who has never even made it to the NBA Finals, let alone played such an integral role in a victory over the record-setting, 73-win Warriors.

Another championship would help strengthen Irving's case to be included in the 100th anniversary celebration, but his Nets were swept in the first round of the playoffs by the Boston Celtics. It capped off a tumultuous season that saw him sidelined for most of it because he remained unvaccinated against COVID-19.

Assuming he and Durant are back and healthy in 2022-23, Brooklyn still figures to be among the title contenders even after disappointing this season.