Kyrie Irving’s arrival in Brooklyn energized a Nets fan base constantly reminded that they were the “little sibling” in terms of basketball relevancy in New York City. The tandem of Kevin Durant and Irving made the Nets championship contenders. However, that window slammed shut after the star guard was traded to the Dallas Mavericks.
Here’s a look at a chaotic timeline that portrays the roller coaster of events that surrounded Irving:
— Aug. 30, 2017: The Cleveland Cavaliers agreed to send Irving to the Boston Celtics in exchange for Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic and draft compensation. The deal made Irving the star of the Celtics roster, away from being option No. 2 playing alongside LeBron James in Cleveland.
— Oct. 4, 2018: In the final year of a five-year deal, Irving told season-ticket holders at TD Garden “If you guys will have me back, I plan on re-signing here next year.” His promise was met with electrifying applause.
— Feb. 1, 2019: Months after sharing his plans to re-sign with the Celtics, Irving seemingly changed his mind when asked about his impending free agency. “At the end of the day I’m going to do what’s best for me and my career,” Irving told reporters. “I don’t owe anybody s---.”
— Feb. 18, 2019: A video of Irving and Durant speaking with each other during All-Star weekend went viral, sparking rumors the All-Stars would team up in the future.
— May 8, 2019: The Milwaukee Bucks eliminated the Celtics in the Eastern Conference semifinals. Irving’s poor performance in the series-clinching Game 5 — 15 points on 6-of-21 shooting from the field — was the last memory fans have of the guard in a Celtics jersey.
— June 30, 2019: The Nets were considered clear winners of the 2019 free agency after signing Irving, Durant and DeAndre Jordan. The team was thrusted into championship conversations and expected to deliver after Durant’s return — he missed the entirety of the 2019-20 season after suffering an Achilles injury in Game 5 of the previous season’s NBA Finals as a member of the Golden State Warriors.
— March 7, 2020: Head coach Kenny Atkinson was fired. Atkinson was relieved of his duties despite being on track to lead a star-less roster — without Irving and Durant due to injury — to a postseason appearance. The duo denied rumors claiming they were responsible for Atkinson’s departure. Jacque Vaughn took over as interim head coach.
— Sept. 30, 2020: Nets hired Steve Nash as head coach. Nash was hired to lead a team with championship aspirations despite having no head coaching experience, but his relationships with the two Brooklyn stars was seen as a positive factor.
— Oct. 1, 2020: Irving dismissed the idea of needing a head coach on Durant’s podcast saying “I don’t really see us having a head coach.” He continued saying “KD could be a head coach, I could be a head coach... We don’t need someone to come in with their coaching philosophy and change everything we’re doing.”
— Dec 18, 2020: Irving made his first return to TD Garden inside an empty arena due to COVID-19 protocols. Before the preseason matchup, Irving burned sage inside the arena to “cleanse the energy.”
— Jan. 7, 2021: Irving was ruled out of a home win against the Philadelphia 76ers due to “personal reasons.” The guard went on to miss multiple subsequent games and a video surfaced online of him attending his sister’s birthday party. Days later, Irving amassed over $800k in fines for forfeiting game checks and violating the league’s coronavirus rules.
— Jan. 13, 2021: The Nets acquired James Harden in a four-team blockbuster deal. The team formed their superteam after parting with young stars Caris LeVert, Jarrett Allen and draft compensation.
— May 28, 2021: As a Net, Irving played his first game in front of fans in TD Garden. The guard shot 6 for 17 in the Nets’ first round Game 3 loss while being showered with boos. In Game 4, the All-Star stomped on the Celtics’ logo at half court and was almost struck by a water bottle thrown by a fan.
— June 19, 2021: Year 1 of the Nets’ trio tragically came to an end after the Bucks won Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semifinals. Irving’s sprained ankle and Harden’s nagging hamstring injury left the team depending on Durant, who seemed to hit the series-clinching buzzer-beater at the end of regulation but was overturned after officials determined his foot was on the 3-point line.
— Oct. 12, 2021: The Nets announced Irving wouldn’t practice or play in any games due to the guard’s unwillingness to receive the COVID-19 vaccine — rendering him ineligible to participate under New York City’s vaccine mandate at the time. Weeks later, Mayor Eric Adams said he wouldn’t change the mandate for Irving.
— Dec. 12 2021: Nets announced in a statement that Irving would return to the team as a part-time player exclusively for road games.
— Feb. 10, 2022: The James Harden era came to an end after the Nets agreed to send the disgruntled guard to the Philadelphia 76ers in exchange for Ben Simmons, Seth Curry, Andre Drummond and two future first-round picks. Durant’s injury status and Irving’s constant absences led to Harden’s trade request. The 2018 MVP later said in an interview “things weren’t what I expected...”
— April 25, 2022: The Celtics sent the Nets home after suffering an embarrassing series sweep in the first round of the 2022 playoffs.
— May 16, 2022: Weeks after Irving committed to the franchise, general manager Sean Marks was reluctant on handing the All-Star a long-term extension. “We need people here that want to be here, that are selfless, that want to be part of something bigger than themselves,” Marks said.
— June 27, 2022: Irving’s camp requested and received permission to seek sign-and-trade packages. Irving also opted into the final year of his contract worth $36.5M. The New York Daily News confirmed that the Los Angeles Lakers were the guard’s desired destination
— June 30, 2022: Durant requested a trade from the Nets with the News confirming the Phoenix Suns as the forward’s desired destination. The Nets looked to recoup an All-Star caliber player and a significant haul of draft compensation. After weeks of failed negotiations and meetings with team owner Joe Tsai, Durant rescinded his trade request on Aug. 23.
— Oct. 27, 2022: Irving posted a link to the movie “Hebrews to Negroes: Wake Up Black America,” on his social media channels. The 30-year-old initially refused to remove the post promoting the anti-semitic film and didn’t immediately apologize.
— Oct. 31, 2022: In response to Irving’s post, a group of fans protested courtside during the Nets 116-109 win against the Indiana Pacers wearing “Fight Antisemitism” shirts. Two days prior, Tsai condemned the guard for the controversial tweet.
— Nov. 2, 2022: Nash was fired after a 2-5 start to the season. Vaughn was named the coach for the remainder of the season, but not before the organization created a media firestorm by attempting to hire Ime Udoka, who was suspended by the Celtics for violating multiple team policies.
— Nov. 3, 2022: Irving was suspended at least five games by the Nets after the team deemed him “currently unfit” to be associated with the franchise. The All-Star also posted an apology on Instagram. Irving and the Nets promised to donate $500,000 each towards causes and organizations working to eradicate hate and intolerance.
— Nov. 4, 2022: Global sneaker company Nike suspended their relationship with Irving and canceled the release of the Kyrie 8, the guard’s next signature shoe. The sneaker giant completely cut ties with the athlete in December.
— Feb. 3, 2023: Irving requested a trade from the Nets after both parties failed to reach an agreement on a fully-guaranteed max contract extension.
— Feb. 5, 2023: The Kyrie Irving era in Brooklyn came to an end. The Nets traded the All-Star to the Mavericks for former Brooklyn point guard Spencer Dinwiddie, three-and-D forward Dorian Finney-Smith, a 2029 first-round pick and a pair of second-round picks. Veteran forward Markieff Morris was also sent to Dallas in the deal.
Irving played just 143 of a possible 288 regular-season games since signing in Brooklyn in 2019. He averaged 27.1 points, 5.8 assists and 4.8 rebounds as a Net.