Irving’s apparent episode, which includes shutting down and cutting off communication with teammates and officials, left many confused, ESPN reported, citing Nets sources. However, Irving downplayed the report and explained to reporters that it was “OK to be human.”
“That’s another route of human struggle is worrying about other people’s perceptions of who you are,” he said, according to the New York Daily News. “Why would you ever care about that, you know? I think I fell victim to that in my past, of worrying about things that I can’t control … Human beings have mood swings. It’s OK to be human. I don’t have to be perfect for anyone here, nor do I have to be perfect for the public. So I’m not here to dispel any perception, I’m just here to be myself.”
“Who cares what ESPN says or what anyone says?” he continued. “That’s gonna come with being one of the top players. History has shown you can be the best teammate ever and someone’s still gonna say something negative about what you’re doing and how you approach your life … I kind of expect that at this point, for everybody to say things. I’m gonna keep on smiling and doing me. I’m happy where I am and that comes with it I guess. They try to tear down some of the most peaceful people in the world, still to this day, so it’s gonna happen.”
“As his teammate, I mean, there’s no problems at all,” he said. “Absolutely none. Comes into work every day, works hard. Great teammate. Talks to everybody. He’s having a great time…. You guys don’t like him. It’s simple. He presents no problems.”
Nets coach Kenny Atkinson also dismissed the report as “completely false.”
Irving’s issues with teammates on his past teams have often been attributed to the point guard’s “mood.” ESPN had previously reported that Irving went “consecutive days” without speaking to his Cleveland Cavaliers teammates during the 2017 NBA Playoffs.
When he joined the Boston Celtics, he criticized his teammates for not realizing what it takes to be a championship team. He apologized for the comments while with the Celtics.