Report: Steve Nash Frustrated by Kyrie Irving's Communication Amid Nets Absence

Blake SchusterSenior Analyst IIMarch 10, 2021

Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving (11) walks past head coach Steve Nash during an NBA basketball game against the Atlanta Hawks, Friday, Jan. 1, 2021, in New York. The Hawks won 114-96. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)
Adam Hunger/Associated Press

Brooklyn Nets coach Steve Nash has faced a bumpy road when it comes to Kyrie Irving this season.

According to Mike Mazzeo of Forbes, Irving's seven-game absence in January stands out as one of those obstacles—not because Irving needed time away from the court but because he seemingly told everyone in the locker room he needed space except for his coach. 

Per Mazzeo:

"Irving's absence due to personal reasons initially came as a surprise to Nash. Nash said that he had texted Irving, but the All-Star guard didn't respond. Irving, however, did text his teammates in their group chat regarding the situation. Nash, who had built a reputation as a standup guy in the locker room during his career — where trust was built on honesty, respect and directness — was frustrated with Irving's lack of communication, league sources said." 

The Nets are 24-13 and second in the Eastern Conference as the second half of the season kicks off this week. Building a working relationship with Irving will be critical to Nash and the continuation of that success.

"We've missed him," Nash told reporters when Irving returned from his hiatus. "I'm excited to get him back out there on the floor. … It's hard to build chemistry without playing, and we're not playing in practice. So, the chemistry is going to be formed on the floor during games. It's going to take some time, but we're excited about the possibilities."

Irving is averaging 27.2 points, 6.0 assists and 4.8 rebounds per game and has been playing more off the ball since the James Harden trade, with the team deciding it made the most sense for the former Houston Rockets star to be the primary ball-handler. 

The 2011 No. 1 overall pick is among the best in the league, an NBA champion and a commanding presence in the locker room, which is why the start to their relationship ideally would've gone a bit smoother.

After Nash was hired, Irving commented on Kevin Durant's podcast that he felt the team didn't really have a head coach. Irving eventually apologized for the remarks.

Now that Blake Griffin is joining the team as a free agent for the stretch run, the list of veteran voices continues to grow. Finding a way to keep those personalities from clashing will remain one of the toughest challenges for Nash. 

Early communication issues with Irving may have given him a crash course in manning the sideline, but the rookie head coach will have to continue learning and adapting quickly if Brooklyn is going to continue down a winning path.