Kyrie Irving says he’s committed to Nets, then adds he co-runs franchi…




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Kyrie Irving says he’s not going anywhere.

After the Nets’ 4-0 series loss to the Celtics in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs, Irving expressed his commitment to signing a contract extension in Brooklyn.

“And in terms of my extension, man, I don’t really plan on going anywhere,” he said. “So this is, like I said, this additional motivation for our franchise to be at the top of the league for the next few years. And I’m just looking forward to the summer, and just building with our guys here.”

And then, in typical Irving fact, he dropped a bombshell. Signing an extension would average an additional four more years with superstar forward Kevin Durant. A reporter asked Irving if he and Durant were on the same page about being in Brooklyn for the long haul.

“When I say I’m here with Kev, I think that really entails us managing this franchise together alongside (Nets owner Joe Tsai) and (general manager Sean Marks) and just our group of family members that we have in our locker room and our organization,” said Irving, the newly and self-proclaimed Nets co-manager. “It’s not just about me and Kev, I don’t want to make it just about that. We’re cornerstones here. We have Ben, we have a few other guys that are under contract. We’ve just got to make some moves this offseason, really talk about it, really be intentional about what we’re building.”

LET DOWN MY TEAM

Irving said the cycle of off-court drama in Brooklyn ultimately took a toll on the product on the floor and expressed some regret for the way things played out.

Irving’s decision not to get vaccinated against COVID-19 played a huge part in the Nets’ downfall this season. Because of New York City’s vaccine mandate, the Nets ruled Irving ineligible to play in road games until his Jan. 5 debut in Indiana, and he played as a part-time player until the mayor produced a vaccine exemption for pro athletes in March.

“I just think it was really heavy emotionally this season,” he said. “We all felt it. I felt like I was letting the team down at a point where I wasn’t able to play. We were trying to exercise every option for me to play but I never wanted it to just be about me. And it became a distraction at times.”

Irving’s decision not to get vaccinated and his ensuing absence produced a heavier load for superstar point guard James Harden. Harden ultimately became disgruntled by his load and forced his way to Philadelphia in a trade for Ben Simmons, Andre Drummond and Seth Curry.

“As you see, we just had some drastic changes. We lost a franchise player and we got a franchise player back, but we didn’t get a chance to see him on the floor,” Irving said. “There was no pressure for him, either, to step on the floor with us, either.

“Ben’s good, we have Ben, we have his back, he’s going to be good for next year. Now we just turn the page and look forward to what we’re building as a franchise and really get tougher.”

PRAYING ON OUR DOWNFALL

Irving said getting swept out of the first round of the playoffs brought sadness and disappointment but also motivation for the future.

“It’s just burning in my heart right now,” he said. “I know so many people wanted to see us fail at this juncture, picked us as contenders and have so much to say at this point. So I’m just using that as fuel for the summer and coming into the season starting from October, and just getting a good start as a team and hopefully we don’t run into any barriers, and we could just start fresh and be realistic with our own expectations and live with our team results instead of be in the polarization of the media scrum and having our names be dragged for a series that naturally happens in people’s careers. So it’s definitely exciting to have this motivation going into the summertime.”

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