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“Just Another Basketball Game”: Kyrie Irving Shuns Emotions for Brooklyn Return Despite Sharing “Excitement”

Published 02/06/2024, 7:36 PM EST

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USA Today via Reuters

The Dallas Mavericks will face the Brooklyn Nets tonight. And Mavs superstar Kyrie Irving is available to suit up against his former team at the Barclays Center. Kyrie made his return in yesterday’s game against the Philadelphia 76ers after missing six straight games due to right thumb soreness. Tonight’s game against the Nets will be Kyrie’s first game back at the Barclays Center since leaving the team last year.

While fans and media expected Kyrie’s emotions to run high playing against his former team, the Mavs superstar shut down all talks. “Let’s just normalize the emotions that go into those games playing against your former team… It’s just another basketball game against a good team.” Kyrie said during the pre-game interview. Kyrie claimed the only thing he was feeling about being back at the Barclays Center was “excitement”, and there was no deeper emotion to it.

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Kyrie played with the Brooklyn Nets from 2019 to the middle of last season. He signed with the Nets following his stint in Boston to join forces with 2-time Champion Kevin Durant. The duo was soon joined by former MVP James Harden to form the Big 3. The Nets had high expectations for the Big 3, but they did not find any significant success in their time together. Kyrie hardly played for the Nets because of the drama surrounding him. The most he played in one year for the Nets was during the 2020-21 season when he clocked in for 54 out of 82 games. Kyrie’s tenure in Brooklyn ended in disappointment last season after he got traded to the Mavs.

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Mavericks Injury Report: Luka Doncic Makes Way for Kyrie Irving’s Return in Bittersweet Turn of Events

Will the Nets give Kyrie Irving a tribute video?

While Kyrie will make his highly-anticipated return to Brooklyn tonight, he is not the first superstar from the Big 3 to play at Barclays Center this season. Kevin Durant returned to Barclays Center last week to face the Nets. The Slim Reaper received a heartfelt welcome from the Nets organization. Despite KD asking the Nets not to give him a tribute video, the team played a Kevin Durant highlight reel of his best Nets plays on the jumbotron. Durant was honored by the tribute and thanked the organization and the fans for the love.

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However, it seems unlikely that Kyrie Irving will get a tribute video in Brooklyn like his former teammate. Kyrie was the source of a ton of drama and controversy for the Nets during his tenure, and their relationship did not end on the best terms. It will also be interesting to see how the Nets fans welcome their former superstar at Barclays Center.

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Written by:

Rohan Bhaunt

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“Nothing is given. Everything is earned.” - This LeBron James quote struck me very early in my life.
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Edited by:

Sameen Nawathe