Brooklyn Nets Point Guard Kyrie Irving has been handed nearly $900,000 penalties for violating the National Basketball Association's COVID-19 health protocols. On the lighter end, the Brooklyn Nets must pay a $50,000 fine for Irving's transgressions. On the heftier end of the punishment, Kyrie Irving will lose approximately $800,000 of his salary.
Irving has not played with the Nets since January 5. Over the last ten days, speculation has grown regarding his absence. Some reports suggested that Irving was taking time away from the team to process the effects of the Capitol Hill riots. Other reports suggested that the 2016 NBA Champion left without offering the Nets a reason as to why. However, no report quite confirmed the reason for Irving's sudden absence.
Things took a turn for the worse when social media posts suggested that he attended a maskless, indoor birthday party for his sister earlier this week. While innocent in nature, Irving's alleged attendance could have violated the league's COVID-19 protocols and resulted in an even longer absence from the team. As time wore on, some pundits began to question Irving's desire to play. ESPN's Stephen A. Smith went as far as to say that the All-Star point guard should return.
“He’s not worth [the drama] at all. Matter of fact, let me say this straight up and down: I think Kyrie Irving should retire,” the ESPN personality said on Wednesday.
Irving will not retire. Instead, it appears that he is planning to make his way back to the court on Saturday when the Nets play the Orlando Magic. Upon his return, the Nets locker room may look a bit different. During his absence, the Nets traded away key players such as Jarrett Allen, Caris LeVert and Taurean Prince for former NBA MVP James Harden. With Harden and Irving in the line-up, the Nets will push for the first NBA Championship in team history.
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