Kyrie Irving addressed the media at Barclays Center for the first time since injuring his shoulder in early November.
Irving, who has missed the Nets' previous 22 games (with Saturday's game against the Raptors being game 23), spoke about his shoulder impingement, confirming that he also had shoulder bursitis, which has been previously reported. Irving also explained how he opted for a cortisone shot over surgery, although surgery could still be in play.
Here are the five biggest takeaways from Irving's Saturday press conference:
On the current status of his shoulder and when he first noticed his injury
"I'm doing a lot better. It's just been a lot of questions that I've had for what would be the best-case scenario for me to go out there and play, and what I can possibly play through with the shoulder injury. It's very unique because it's the first time I've ever had such a significant feeling in my shoulder where I'm going up to shoot jump shots and I can't really lift my shoulder to get up in the jump shot position and it's impinging. There was some bursitis in there that was really, really impacting me going out there and playing my game at a high level.
"It actually started back after we played the Pelicans (on November 4). After that game, before the road trip, I felt decent. I'd been shooting every single day, I'd been making sure that I was lifting, making sure I was taking care of my body, and it got to the point where I had overused it. … Got to that Pelicans game and I had one wrong, kind of, contest on the shot. I think somebody came and blocked it, and then after that game I had our (medical staff) look at it, they dug on it, then I started wearing tape on the road trip, and that Denver game was the last game I played, and after that, it just progressively got worse."
On choosing a cortisone shot over surgery
As Irving's rehab progressed, he was presented with two options: either have arthroscopic surgery (which would sideline him 2-4 months) or receive a cortisone shot and see how the shoulder healed on its own.
Irving opted for the cortisone shot, which he received on December 24.
"I'm in a better place now, now that there's been some significant time. I tried to go without any anti-inflammatories, which is why it took so long, and now I'm at a place where the next step in any progression was to either get a cortisone shot or get surgery. That was the ultimatum I was fixed with, so now I'm just doing the best I can to live off this cortisone and move forward if I need surgery in the future."
On if he's considered having surgery already
"It's definitely crossed my mind. I wouldn't be honest with you if I didn't tell you that, but I thought that the next step in the progression was to get the cortisone and see how it responds and then move on from that point. We'll see in two months or so if it still lasts or in a month or so, or it could start hurting in the next two weeks, I don't know, but I'm going to continue on the process that I am of rehabbing and trying to get back out there with the guys.
"But it's definitely crossed my mind, getting the surgery, probably putting me out for (2-4 months) … I just thought about the present moment and what we have, and the overall goal is to remain healthy, continue to get better with these guys, and then we move forward after this season after we achieve the goals we have in place."
On his level of frustration
"It just sucks, man. It really is disheartening when you're working your tail off to be at a certain level and then your shooting shoulder just starts to give out on you a little bit. … You keep feeling something in your shoulder and you're trying to explain it to the medical staff, you're trying to explain it to all of these experts out there. I'm going to see shoulder specialists. I'm in Phoenix, Ariz. trying to see a shoulder specialist. I'm seeing a specialists for one week, two weeks, and I'm doing all of these exercises, and still nothing is happening to get me back on to the court.
"So it 's definitely frustrating, but like I said, I'm in a better place now. Just going to keep progressing and see where we end up in the next few weeks."
On the big picture
"I think that the most important thing for us is just the big picture. We obviously - when I say we I mean myself, (Kevin Durant), (DeAndre Jordan), Garrett (Temple), Wilson (Chandler) - us veterans, we obviously signed here for a reason, and that's for the big picture, which is an NBA Championship. … I think we want to figure it out and how do we get to that level and build a championship culture here, and that doesn't just happen in one year just because you get certain players. Things have to go right … Me and KD obviously came here to play together and lead these guys to a championship run for the next few years, and right now we're just not in a position to do so, but we're going to do the best we can for the rest of the season."