Kyrie Irving Discusses Growing Up As A 'Struggling Nets Fan' In Post-Jason Kidd Era On Instagram Live
From 2001-07, the New Jersey Nets, led by Jason Kidd, were a consistent NBA championship contender in the Eastern Conference. With Kidd, Richard Jefferson and Vince Carter leading the way, the Nets advanced to the NBA finals two straight years (2001-02, 2002-03) and made the postseason six consecutive seasons.
Just like so many of us, Irving spent his Friday night staying inside, "social distancing" and helping to "flatten the curve." The terms that have become our new reality.
To pass the time, what did Irving do? He went on Instagram Live with his former St. Patrick High School (N.J.) teammate Jeremiah Green.
"Being a struggling Nets fan at one point, oh my goodness bro," Irving said. "All my Jersey people know, before the Nets went to Brooklyn, trying to fill that Continental Airlines Arena up. They were selling three-game packages for like $90!"
If there was any question as to why Irving so badly wanted to end up with the Nets over the Knicks, his fandom for his childhood team bleeds out here. It all makes sense.
Irving also discussed going up against his childhood idol, friend and mentor Kobe Bryant during a game in 2012 versus the Black Mamba's Los Angeles Lakers while Kyrie was with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
"I get it at the top of the key and I hear the crowd, and the crowd is like, they're all erupting silently," Irving said. "Then everybody starts clapping like, 'Ooh yeah!' and it's at the top of the key. Now, what does that remind you of? Back in the city, back in Jersey when you get into that moment, this is your time. So I get at the top of the key and I make a move, he stutters a little bit, and I spin -- and when I spun, this dude was waiting for that and he punched that shit. He punched it! He punched it, bro! He punched it! ... I sized Kobe up. But it was the crowd. It was the crowd. It was the crowd. The crowd got me.
"At this point, I'mma see him in a little bit, like, I'mma play him one-on-one in heaven, we good. Imma get him back."
Personally, I still get chills hearing other players and celebrities tell stories about the late-Bryant.
IG Live's are becoming the go-to-thing for NBA players while in quarantine. Fans should invite as many of these as possible while we all sit inside, waiting for NBA basketball to return.
In addition to his work as a digital host and reporter for SI.com, Rob is also a writer for WFAN, SB Nation and the founder of his own website/ interview show STAT Sports (STATSports1.com). Follow him on Twitter: @RobLep1.