The official record will count Wednesday night’s (October 23) Brooklyn Nets game as a loss, 127-126 in overtime against the Minnesota Timberwolves.
It’s only one game of 82, but it was a special night for Kyrie Irving.
The Nets’ all-star point guard, who grew up a Nets fan in nearby West Orange, New Jersey, was finally home after a tumultuous last season in Boston.
Irving was in his bag on Wednesday, delighting the Barclays Center crowd with 50 points, 8 rebounds, 7 assists, and 0 turnovers. The only thing missing was the win.
Irving had a chance to win the game in overtime, but he stumbled on a move to the basket, somehow regained control of the ball and got a clean look that rimmed out.
All in all a significant night for Irving.
“I just had to make a choice to be happy out there,” Irving said. “My grandfather would only want it that way for me. He was my biggest fan. He was definitely in there tonight. I felt him, and I know he’s going to be with me.”
Irving lost his grandfather, George Larson, last year, and it was devastating. He has talked openly about basketball no longer being fun during that time and the challenges he had grieving while still being expected to lead a title contender, the Boston Celtics.
There were conflicts with his younger teammates, tense exchanges with the media, which all led to a flame out in the playoffs against the Milwaukee Bucks.
This summer, Irving wanted to find a place that he wanted to be, and an opportunity to play basketball in an environment where he could be happy both on and off the court.
He chose Brooklyn and joined up with his friends Kevin Durant and DeAndre Jordan.
The emotions of the anniversary, and finally playing at home, were almost too much for Irving, who addressed the crowd pregame, and you could tell it was finally starting to sink in.
“I wasn’t trying to get too emotional or anything like that,” Irving said about his pregame address to the crowd. “I’m just a Jersey kid playing for his home team. There’s nothing like it. It’s been brewing since the fourth grade. I didn’t know it was going to happen at this point or this age. But it’s here and I just want to take advantage of it and just be happy and have a sense of gratitude every time I step on the floor.”
Wednesday night was only one of 82. Kyrie had a big night, but the Nets didn’t win the game. That isn’t lost on Irving, who knows what the ultimate on court goal in Brooklyn is.
“The job wasn’t done,” he said. “None of that stuff matters if you don’t get a win.”
(Photo: Steven Ryan/Getty Images)