Irving sat out the Nets’ win against the Philadelphia 76ers on Thursday and also didn’t travel with the team for the game in Memphis against the Grizzlies on Friday, where they suffered defeat.
The 28-year-old’s absence was put down to “personal reasons,” while Nets coach Steve Nash said he had been in contact with the star but was “going to keep [the conversation] between us.”
Reports in the NY Post and elsewhere have stated that Irving missed the two games because he was “upset by the attack on the US Capitol in Washington by supporters of President Donald Trump.”
Other reports quoted the star as saying he “just didn’t want to play.”
Those claims prompted anger and accusations against Irving, who penned a four-year deal worth $140 million with the Nets in July 2019.
“I wish I could call in to my 9 to 5 and say I’m not working today for ‘personal reasons,’” wrote one Twitter user.
“If I decided to not show up for work just cause I ‘didn’t feel like working’, I wonder how long I would keep that job…,” read another response.
“Poor Kyrie. I really feel for him and his 136 million dollar contract to play basketball,” scoffed another.
Others sarcastically wrote that the decision not to play was “stunning and brave,” while one fan accused the star of sending the wrong message through his absence.
“Kyrie needs to understand that he’s not with the ppl by doing this. He comes across privileged AF. Working class Americans, including the ones local to that event, don’t have that luxury… let alone to still be paid,” wrote the fan.
However, some defended Irving’s decision, with one person writing: “Gotta respect it. Mental health is wealth.”
It’s unclear whether Irving will feature for the Nets in Sunday’s home game against the Oklahoma City Thunder, but he is not the only NBA star to take a stand in aftermath of the violent scenes in the US capital.
Los Angeles Lakers icon LeBron James used his post-game press duties on Thursday to launch a diatribe against outgoing President Donald Trump, claiming America had “sh*tted away four years” under the Republican leader, and adding that the black community had suffered the indignity of having their culture “stolen” from them.