Kyrie Irving likely to play for Nets vs. Pistons, per Kenny Atkinson
Kyrie Irving was emotional after hearing the news of the tragic passing of Los Angeles Lakers retired legend Kobe Bryant on Sunday. The Brooklyn Nets point guard was even a late scratch in their game against the New York Knicks.
Now, while still mourning, Irving is expected to play on Wednesday at home against the Detroit Pistons, according to head coach Kenny Atkinson.
“Who knows how he feels tomorrow? But I think the fact that he was here today and engaged and had a great practice, I think it bodes well for playing tomorrow,” the coach said.
“I think he was closer to Kobe than people realize. …Very, very affected (by Bryant’s death),” Atkinson said after Tuesday’s practice. “He practiced today, kind of stoic and quiet. Competed his tail off in practice and was really good. But you can see, he’s obviously still affected.”
The Nets lost on Sunday to the Knicks at the time where the on-court performance was far from the minds of players, coaches, and officials around the NBA.
While some managed to pull their emotions to play and provide amazing performances like Trae Young of the Atlanta Hawks and Eric Gordon of the Houston Rockets, Irving could not be in the building after hearing about the death of Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven others.
Kyrie Irving was said to be very close to Kobe Bryant, even calling him after the former Cleveland Cavaliers floor general won his first championship in 2016.
Bryant’s sudden passing has affected many and more professional athletes and fans, who are showing appreciation and honoring the Lakers great and future Hall of Famer in different ways this week.
It remains to be seen if Kyrie will be able to play, but there’s no doubt he’ll return as a more inspired player looking to honor a fallen brother through his game.