The Kyrie Irving saga continues.
After missing the Brooklyn Nets’ past four games due to personal matters, media has been leaked that appears to show Kyrie Irving at a large family gathering without a mask, which is expected to trigger a review by the NBA during which Irving is not expected to retake the court, sources told ESPN’s Malika Andrews and Adrian Wojnarowski.
Irving has proven himself to be one of the most uber-talented and mercurial players in the league, and if this self-imposed absence lasts any significant amount of time his team may struggle without him—unless the Durantula, Kevin Durant, continues the MVP form he showed in putting up 36 and 11 in his return from quarantine on Sunday. If Irving remains out for an extended period, taking Durant at tasty +700 odds (888sport) for the MVP could be a good move right now.
Irving is expected to miss his fifth (Wednesday vs. the New York Knicks) and sixth (Saturday vs. the Orlando Magic) games in a row at a minimum, according to sources.
The videos, which first flooded the world wide web on Monday night, depict the six-time All-Star dancing with his sister and clapping as she blows out her candles at what seems to be her birthday party. If the videos turn out to be recent, it will mean a breach of the league’s health and safety protocols, which is trouble for the Duke product.
The rules state that players can not go to bars, clubs, or lounges and can not attend any gatherings of 15 or more people. There was a similar investigation into Houston Rockets guard James Harden back in December when video surfaced of him partying with no mask at what was supposedly a Houston strip club’s Christmas party.
The investigation into Harden’s malfaisance cost him a $50,000 fine and forced him into a four-day quarantine during which he would have to return negative COVID-19 tests every day. He passed all of his tests and never missed a game for the Rockets (though the team did have their season opener against the Thunder postponed).
The Beard seems like he got a bit of luck that won’t fall Irving’s way: if a player misses a game because they are discovered to have made a COVID violation, he loses 1/72 of his salary, according to league rules. While Harden dodged that bullet, it will likely catch Irving.
The Irving debacle comes at a pretty inopportune time for the NBA as well. The league had to postpone three games over three straight days from Sunday to Tuesday, and they had the Philadelphia 76ers playing with just seven healthy guys including one starter (Danny Green) in a game over the weekend.
Following a call to discuss tightening protocols between team general managers on Monday, the NBA Board of Governors supposedly held a special meeting on Tuesday to continue the talks, according to Wojnarowski. How they will decide remains to be seen, but putting the season on hold is certainly not in the cards at the moment.