Kyrie Irving’s eight-game suspension ended Sunday as the star point guard geared up for the Brooklyn Nets game against the Memphis Grizzlies.
Irving had not played for the Nets since November 1. The Nets suspended Irving on Nov. 3 after he tweeted a link to a documentary containing anti-Semitic messages, followed by an initial refusal to apologize.
Irving has since issued multiple apologies, including during his Sunday pregame media availability.
“I want to offer my deepest apologies to everyone who has been affected in recent weeks, especially my Jewish relatives, my black relatives, all races and cultures,” Irving said on Sunday. “I feel like we’ve all felt an impact and I’m not standing for anything close to hate speech or anti-Semitism or anything that’s ‘anti’, goes against the human race.”
“I feel like I needed to stand in this place and take responsibility for my actions,” Irving said.
Irving received a warm welcome from the Brooklyn crowd during player introductions before the tip. He finished the night with 14 points and five rebounds in the Nets’ 127–115 win over the Grizzlies.
Irving said after the game that it “felt good” to be back on the field.
“I’ve missed my teammates,” Irving told reporters. “I missed the coaching staff. Just preparing with them in the morning and transferring to the game, it felt good.
When asked if he would file a complaint about his suspension, Irving said he would leave that decision to his legal team.
“I have some strong people, men and women, around me who will do everything they can to make sure that I and my family are protected and that we protect each other in the future,” Irving said. in front of.”
In a speech before Sunday’s game, Nets coach Jacque Vaughn showed no hesitation in his decision to ground Irving to start the game.
“He’ll start, and we’ll see where his fitness is, the pace of the game we want to play in. Excited to have him back on the floor with our group, and he’ll fit right in,” Vaughn said.
During a Saturday interview with SNY’s Ian Begley, Irving said he reacted emotionally to being called “anti-Semitic.”
“I felt like I was protecting my character and I reacted out of sheer defense and hurt that I could be labeled, or I thought I was labeled anti-Semitic or anti-Jewish, and I felt like that was normal.” so disrespectful to ask me if I was anti-Semitic or not,” Irving said.
The Nets’ next scheduled game is Tuesday at the Philadelphia 76ers.