The NBA will investigate a video of Brooklyn Nets star point guard Kyrie Irving that has been circulating on social media recently, according to ESPN's Malika Andrews and Adrian Wojnarowski. The video appears to show the NBA champion not wearing a mask while attending a family birthday party at a public venue.
If the video is confirmed to be recent by the NBA, then Irving will have been in violation of the league's health and safety protocols in place during the COVID-19 pandemic. That would require Irving to quarantine for a portion of time before he could return to basketball activities with the Nets, and could face a potential fine similar to what Rockets guard James Harden received for attending an event at a club for a friend. As part of the NBA's protocols, it forbids players from attending bars, clubs, restaurants and lounges, as well as any gatherings over 15 people.
Irving has missed Brooklyn's last three games, and has already been ruled out for Tuesday night's game against the Denver Nuggets. While the Nets are trying to establish some consistency on the floor, Irving isn't expected to join the Nets for at least the rest of the week, per Wojnarowski. The Nets have listed Irving out for personal reasons during his absence and released a statement on Tuesday concerning his time away from the team and the video which has made waves on social media.
"We are aware of a video on social media featuring Kyrie Irving at a family gathering. We are reviewing the circumstances with both Kyrie and the NBA in order to determine compliance with health and safety protocols.
Kyrie remains away from the team due to personal reasons. A date of his return has yet to be finalized. In the meantime, we will continue to stay focused on our organizational goals.
Kyrie will have the opportunity to address his absence when he is ready to do so."
After Brooklyn's game against the Philadelphia 76ers, which was the first game Irving missed, forward Caris LeVert said that Irving texted the team to tell them of his decision, but wouldn't give any specific details regarding his absence.
Whenever Irving decides to rejoin his team, perhaps he'll give an explanation for his absence. Right now, though, Brooklyn must find a way to get back on track after losing its last two games against the Grizzlies and Thunder. The Nets have the third-best net rating in the league (5.3), but have struggled to string together wins. That's to be expected for a team trying to integrate new players into the rotation, namely former MVP Kevin Durant who has looked like his former self early on in the season. However, the Nets were expecting to have both Durant and Irving this season, and with the latter away from the team, Brooklyn hasn't been able to build chemistry around its two most important players.