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Tribune News Service
Tribune News Service
Kristian Winfield

Kyrie Irving: ‘I felt very disrespected’ in Brooklyn

Former Nets star Kyrie Irving said he felt disrespected by the way he was treated in Brooklyn, which is ultimately why he requested the trade that sent him to the Dallas Mavericks days ahead of Thursday’s 3 p.m. NBA trade deadline.

Irving addressed reporters in Dallas on Tuesday for the first time since the completion of the deal that paired him with Mavericks’ superstar guard Luka Doncic.

“I just know I want to be places where I’m celebrated and not just tolerated, or kind of dealt with in a way that doesn’t make me feel respected,” he said, fresh in Mavericks blue. “There were times throughout this process when I was in Brooklyn where I felt very disrespected. And my talent, I work extremely hard at what I do. No one ever talks about my work ethic, though. Everyone talks about what I’m doing off the floor.

“So I just want to change that narrative, control my own story and continue to prepare in the gym. So now that I’m in Dallas, focus on what I can control. I’m always gonna be close with those guys in Brooklyn, just like I’m close with the guys in Boston, just like I’m close with the guys in Cleveland.”

Irving declined to get into specifics regarding actions from the Nets he deemed disrespectful.

”I think that’s another day where I can really go into detail about it,” he said. “I’m not the person to speak on names and go to someone behind their back and leak stuff to the media. That’s never been me. I’ve been an audience member watching people say things about me that ultimately just fall off my shoulder. I’m really in a place that I’m grateful that I got to grow into in the last year and a half, two years, spending time away from the basketball court and getting time to really appreciate life. I just know that I need healthy boundaries, especially in this entertainment business.

“There’s a lot of disrespect that goes on with people’s families, with their names, and I’m just not with it. So it’s no disrespect to those guys in the front office. It’s just what I’m willing to accept, and I took a chance, and luckily and fortunately, the Dallas Mavericks picked me up.”

Irving has also been under fire for deleting the apology he posted on Instagram after the Nets handed down a suspension for “conduct detrimental to the team” for posting a film widely considered antisemitic on his social media channels.

”Yeah I delete a lot of things on my Instagram. I’ve had things that have happened before in my life — probably not as drastic as that moment — which led to a lot of confusion and uncertainty in what I meant and what I stand for,” he said. “And I had to sit up in these mics and explain to the world who I am. I know who I am. So yeah, I delete things all the time, and it’s no disrespect to anyone within the community. I’m just living my life.”

Irving was asked if he still stands by the apology he gave.

”I stand by who I am and why I apologized, and I did it because I care about my family, and I have Jewish members of my family that care for me deeply,” he said. “Did the media know that beforehand, before they called me that word: antisemitic? No. Did they know anything about my family? No. Everything was assumed and put out before I had anything to say, and I reacted instead of responding emotionally, maturely. I didn’t need to be defensive or go at anybody.

“So I stand by my apology. I stand by my people, everywhere. All walks of life, all races, all religions.”

Irving also reiterated he didn’t agree with everything in the controversial film in question — Hebrews to Negroes: Wake Up Black America.

“I’ve had a lot of conversations about world history. What was contained in [the film] was contained in there. I didn’t agree with everything,” he said. “I’ve been up here saying that. I’m just gonna leave it at that.

“If specific media members actually cared to do research instead of being the first to report things, they would know where I come from. The diversity of my family is beautiful, so I’m just gonna try to be focused on them when I’m on the court, and try not to be distracted by y’all.”

The Nets traded Irving for Spencer Dinwiddie, Dorian Finney-Smith, a 2029 first-round pick and a pair of second-round picks. They did so after Irving and the Nets failed to reach an agreement on a long-term, fully-guaranteed contract to keep him in Brooklyn.

The trade gives the Mavericks one of the most dangerous backcourts in all of basketball with Irving and Doncic each capable of scoring 40 on a whim.

Mavericks head coach Jason Kidd said he’s excited about Irving joining the roster.

“We have a relationship,” Kidd told reporters in Dallas. “He’s all about basketball. He wants to win. He wants to be coached. This is a great opportunity for me.”

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