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ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith has consistently criticized Nets guard Kyrie Irving for his unavailability while with the Nets and his latest video sparked a response from Irving on Twitter. 

“@stephanasmith you’re gonna have to explain yourself to people in your generation,” Irving said in a tweet. “I am not around many 50 plus year olds that speak and act like you do, so this is new for me. But I am sure my father and my uncles can meet you on your level better than I can. We know you STEPHEN.”

Irving is likely responding to Smith’s latest rant where he reacted to Irving opting into his nearly $37 million player option to stay in Brooklyn. 

“You know what it means to me? I guess he’s a peon too,” Smith said. “So you gotta go to work, gotta show up to work. You gotta go up there and earn that money. Because even if you plan on leaving the Brooklyn Nets, because we all know that Kyrie doesn’t plan on staying in Brooklyn for the full year, he’s offended, he’s appalled, he’s put back by the fact that the Brooklyn Nets actually said, ‘You have to show up to earn your money.’

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“No matter what options you may think you have down the road, it all starts with you having to show up to work first,” Smith continued. 

Since joining the Nets in 2019, Irving has only played in 103 of 246 regular-season games mostly due to personal reasons and most notably due to COVID-19 restrictions. He refused to get vaccinated against the virus and wasn’t allowed to play for most of this past season because of New York City’s vaccination mandate. He eventually returned as a part-time player only appearing in away games before the mandate was lifted. 

By then, it was too late. The Nets finished with the No. 7 seed and were swept by the Celtics in the first round of the playoffs where Irving struggled. He’s scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent next offseason. 

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