Omarion Omicron opening up the door for Kyrie Irving’s inevitable return to the hardwood, the mercurial point guard did what he does best in his season debut on Wednesday night: Score a bunch of fucking points.
In 32 minutes of action—Brooklyn Nets coach Steve Nash did promise that the 29-year-old superstar would play “a good chunk of minutes” on Wednesday—Kyrie razzled, dazzled, and helped his team snap a three-game losing streak and erase an embarrassing 19-point deficit in the Nets’ 129-121 victory against the Indiana Pacers.
Despite the Duke product’s insistence that he was nervous in his first game of NBA action this season, his coach and teammates weren’t buying it. And neither is the box score, as evidenced by the 22 points he poured in.
“It was amazing to have him out there,” Kevin Durant told reporters after the game. “I missed his presence in the locker room, his energy around the team. His game is just so beautiful. It makes the game so much easier for everybody out there. […] The game of basketball is happy to have him back.”
“He looks like himself,” Nash said. “Not that that’s a surprise.”
As for Kyrie, the magnitude of the moment wasn’t lost on him.
“This meant a little more, taking eight months off and so much uncertainty,” he said. “I settled down closer to the second half. Whatever the team (needs), I’ll do.”
As for his polarizing COVID-19 vaccine stance—which will prevent him from playing in home games this season and also prevented him from playing a single minute of NBA basketball this year until Wednesday night—the seven-time All-Star insists he’s “taking it one day at a time.”
“Like I said before, it’s not an ideal situation,” he told reporters. “I’m always praying that things get figured out and we’re able to come to some collective agreement. [...] I’m just going to take it one day at a time, like I said, and enjoy this time that I get to play with my guys. However it looks later in the season, then we’ll address it then.”
The playoffs are months away, so there’s plenty that can change between now and then. But if Wednesday night is any indication, this could be the year that the Brooklyn Nets emerge as NBA champs.