Ian Begley, SNY.tv | Twitter |
Speaking from his own experience, Nets coach Kenny Atkinson said on Tuesday that he's never had any concern over star point guard Kyrie Irving's mood.
"That is completely false. In strictly speaking in my observation and my experience with him so far, it's absolutely not true," Aktinson said when asked about an ESPN report that stated the organization has concerns about Irving's mood swings. "I'm the moody one, I really am. I'm cranky and I have my ups and downs. If there's just natural human behavior where guys are up and down, that's different. From my perspective, I give Kyrie an A-plus in his consistency and his spirit. It's been great."
In a profile on Irving, Kevin Durant, DeAndre Jordan and the Nets, ESPN's Jackie MacMullan, reported that the Nets are 'queasy' over Irving's changing mood. It's a part of his personality that has reportedly been brought up multiple times over his career.
When asked about the report on Tuesday, Nets guard Spencer Dinwiddie said, "I would encourage whoever it is that has those strong feelings to just say whatever they need to say to Kyrie then. As players, we haven't experienced it. We've been cool."
MacMullan's full story is well worth your time. It delves into how the Nets' culture and norms may have to bend with Irving and Durant in Brooklyn. Important to note for context: the story suggests that Irving and the Nets are largely on the same page at this point.
But it notes the following: "Irving's infamous mood swings, confirmed by his ex-teammates, which followed him from Cleveland to Boston to Brooklyn, are the unspoken concern that makes Nets officials queasy. When Irving lapses into these funks, he often shuts down, unwilling to communicate with the coaching staff, front office and, sometimes, even his teammates. Nets team sources say one such episode occurred during Brooklyn's trip to China, leaving everyone scratching their heads as to what precipitated it."
Jordan, Irving's close friend, had a lighthearted response when asked about the report.
"Kyrie's a bad guy, he's terrible, he's moody, I don't like to be around him," he said, facetiously.
Jordan later added: "I feel like we're all competitive, everybody in the world goes through mood swings. It's a part of life and human nature. I just don't think it should be targeted at one person …. It's not affecting our team. I think Kyrie's a great guy, I don't think Kyrie's done anything negative. Anything that I've seen that he's done. And he's a friend of mine. So if he was, I would tell him."
When asked about the reference to team officials scratching their heads, Dinwiddie said, "Quite honestly I think the head-scratching incident came from front office personnel on the Rockets."
Dinwiddie's joke was in reference to the tweet from Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey in support of pro-democracy demonstrators in Hong Kong. The tweet set off a geo-political firestorm for the NBA and may impact the league's revenue.
Dinwiddie added, "Obviously that's been well-documented so it's not like I'm saying something inflammatory, please… I've been out of (commenting on the issue), I'm going to stay out of it."
With regard to Irving, Dinwiddie said he's been a 'great' teammate so far.
"(He's) trying to offer up his experiences and what he sees out there, trying to be an open source of knowledge and communicate and be a leader out there so we appreciate that," he said.
Atkinson said his experience coaching Irving thus far has been 'excellent.'
"It's easier coaching a great player. It just is. Everybody says how hard it is, and maybe I'm naive. But I think it's great and we've had great one on one conversations," the coach said. "We have great film sessions with the team. He's given me great feedback. He's really helped me on two or three things that have helped the team get better. I keep saying, I'm going to lean on these guys a little bit. Look at Kyrie, he's got incredible pedigree, incredible experiences and I'm going to continue to ask him about situations."
The Nets are 1-2 entering Wednesday's home game against the Indiana Pacers. Both losses have come in overtime. Irving has been sensational, averaging 37.7 points, 6.3 assists, 5.7 rebounds and 1.7 steals per game.
As you'd expect, Brooklyn players say they are still getting accustomed to playing with one another. Five Nets who have averaged at least 13 minutes in the first three games are new to the team this season.