Kyrie Irving made his Brooklyn Nets comeback from suspension Sunday night as he was named in the starting five for their 127-115 win over the Memphis Grizzlies.
The 30-year-old was indefinitely banned by the Nets ‘until he satisfied a series of objective remedial measures that addressed the harmful impact of his conduct’ after posting a link to the Amazon page of a film based on a book described as ‘anti-Semitic’.
After missing eight games since being suspended on November 3 he appears to have met the road to redemption requirements set by the team.
Irving was as expected included in the line-up to face the Grizzlies at the Barclays Center. He started alongside Joe Harris, Kevin Durant, Royce O’Neale and Ben Simmons.
Durant scored 20 of his 26 points in the second half as the Nets pulled away in the fourth quarter.
Kyrie Irving made his Brooklyn Nets comeback Sunday night following suspension for Tweet
Nets guard Kyrie Irving shoots over Memphis Grizzlies forward John Konchar (46)
The 30-year-old ignited controversy by tweeting a link to the Amazon page for the 2018 film ‘Hebrews to Negroes: Wake Up Black America’
On his return Irving said after victory: ‘It felt good. I missed my teammates, missed the coaching staff… It felt good to get this game out of the way. Now we can move forward with the rest of the season.’
Durant has reached 25 points in all 17 games this season and is the first to do since Rick Barry scored at least 25 in the first 25 games for the 1967-68 San Francisco Warriors. Durant made 9 of 16 shots overall and scored 14 points in the third to help the Nets erase a five-point halftime deficit.
Ben Simmons scored a season-high 22 on 11 of 13 from the field as the Nets shot a blistering 60.2 percent. Coming off the bench, Yuta Watanabe added 12 of his 16 in the fourth quarter while Irving finished with 14 after sitting out the past eight games.
Irving released a more formal apology on Saturday in an interview with SNY, where he said he isn’t ‘anti-Semitic’ and wanted to ‘apologize deeply’ for the posts.
He was asked postgame if he might file a grievance claim regarding his suspension, to which he replied: ‘I got to leave that to my legal team and leave that to the warriors I have around me.
After missing eight games since being suspended on November 3, Irving played the Grizzlies
‘I have some strong people, men and women around me, that are going to do everything possible to make sure that I’m protected, my family’s protected, and we protect one another. So I’m sure some things will be done in the future, but there’s no timetable on that right now.’
He was suspended for at least five games and served that minimum ban last Saturday but owner Joe Tsai said Irving still had ‘work to do’ at their win over the Los Angeles Clippers.
Irving ignited controversy by tweeting a link to the Amazon page for the 2018 film ‘Hebrews to Negroes: Wake Up Black America.’
The movie is based on a 2015 book by the same name, which Rolling Stone described as ‘venomously anti-Semitic.’
Kevin Durant scored 20 of his 26 points in second half as the Nets won 127-115 vs. the Grizzlies
After posting the Amazon link to the film on Twitter, Irving quarreled with media, telling reporters ‘I’m not going to stand down on anything that I believe in.’ He then appeared to backtrack by deleting the post without an explanation.
After days of competing statements from Irving, the Nets, Tsai, and Silver, the club suspended the All-Star for at least five games.
Irving, who has been criticized for failing to apologize, finally said he was sorry in a statement, but only after he got his minimum five-game ban from the Nets.
The Nets released an angry and frustrated statement earlier this month, saying the decision to suspend Irving stemmed from his ongoing lack of apology, the latest of refusal coming after an awful media appearance.
Irving has faced a barrage of criticism, ranging from the team’s front office to NBA Commissioner, Adam Silver, former NBA players and media and never had a fixed date for his return after being suspended earlier this month.
‘I’m not anti-Semitic, I never have been,’ Irving told SNY. ‘I don’t have hate in my heart for the Jewish people or anyone that identifies as a Jew. I’m not anti-Jewish.’
‘I just want to apologize deeply for all of my actions throughout the time that it’s been since the post was first put in,’ Irving continued.
‘I’ve had a lot of time to think, but my focus initially – if I could do it over – would be to heal and repair a lot of my close relationships with my Jewish relatives.
‘I’ve always tried to stand up for what I believe in and stand up for those I feel like are being discriminated against based on their skin color or religion.
‘I stand with all of my brothers and sisters that are really doing the things necessary to bring harmony and peace to this world.’
Elsewhere in the NBA Sunday night, the Suns beat the Knicks, the Wizards overcame the Hornets, the Kings beat the Pistons, the Cavaliers won 113-87 over the Heat and the Nuggets beat the Mavericks by one point.
Klay Thompson scored a season-high 41 points, Stephen Curry posted a season-best 15 assists as Golden State recorded its first road victory of the season with a hard-fought decision over Houston.
While Anthony Davis recorded 30 points and 18 rebounds as Los Angeles dominated visiting San Antonio to win its season-best third straight game.