What if Kyrie Irving Didn't Injury His Ankle in the 2021 Playoffs?

Would the former Nets point guard be a two-time NBA Champion right now?

The Milwaukee Bucks and the Brooklyn Nets went toe-to-toe in the 2021 Eastern Conference Semifinals in a series that needed seven games and an overtime period in the finale to determine a victor. When up 2-1 in the series -- in Game 4 against the Bucks -- Kyrie Irving suffered an ankle injury in the second quarter, adding to the Nets' already diminished lineup that already lacked superstar James Harden.

Irving attempted a shot around the basket with six minutes remaining in the second quarter after catching an entry pass under the hoop and he landed on Milwaukee's Giannis Antetokounmpo's foot. The former Nets guard was visibly in excruciating pain in the collision. Before going down and heading back to the locker room, Irving had compiled 11 points, five rebounds, and two assists.

At halftime, the Nets were behind 53–48. Momentum was swinging the Bucks' way and everything that could have gone wrong in stopping Brooklyn's dream season was happening. There was hope that Irving could return and help the Nets come back, as they were already in striking distance. Instead, the devastating news was soon revealed that Irving would miss the remainder of Game 4 and even worse, the rest of the series.

With the way Irving got the series started, you can tell how bad he wanted a championship in Brooklyn and a second ring for himself. The nerve to pull back on a dime with so much audacity on Antetokounmpo in Game 1 was telling enough. Versus other teams on his way to that championship, Antetokounmpo seemed almost unstoppable and he didn't need more than six games to eliminate the Nets.

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Ajayi Brown


Ajayi has covered the NBA for several years, most notably covering the league at large for SLAM and the Brooklyn Nets at several outlets before joining Inside the Nets.