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Kyrie Irving likely won’t be avoiding the media for much longer.
Irving and the Brooklyn Nets were fined $25,000 each for violating the NBA’s media access rules, the league announced Thursday.
“The fines result from Irving’s refusal on several occasions this week to participate in team media availability,” the NBA said in a release.
Irving, 28, declined to speak with reporters last week, when the Nets opened up training camp, and has yet to address reporters — aside from a written statement he released through a publicist last Friday.
“Instead of speaking to the media today, I am issuing this statement to ensure that my message is conveyed properly,” Irving said in his statement. “I am committed to show up to work everyday, ready to have fun, compete, perform, and win championships alongside my teammates and colleagues in the Nets organization. My goal this season is to let my work on and off the court speak for itself.”
Irving appeared in just 20 games during an injury-marred 2019-20 NBA season, his first with the Nets. With Kevin Durant recovered from an Achilles tear that cost him all of last season, the Nets will finally have their star pair on the court together when the season commences on Dec. 22.
While most NBA coaches are aiming to get used to working in empty arenas, Nets head coach Steve Nash will simply be getting used to sitting in the coach’s seat.
“Coaching with or without fans will be different for me, at this point. I’m pretty green,” he said on a Zoom call Thursday. “Obviously, I have a lot of history and experience with the game and the league, but actually sitting in that seat is going to take a little bit of time to get used to it, whether there’s fans or no fans.”
Nash has already stressed that the Nets will have to be fluid and be able to adapt under the uncertain circumstances the COVID-19 pandemic brings. But the first-year head coach acknowledged that teams likely learned a lot from this past season’s bubble, where NBA players competed in front of no fans for the first time in their careers.
Asked if coaching in an empty arena would influence his approach to defense, Nash noted that teams in the bubble quickly realized that everyone can hear everything from each bench.
“It had a big impact defensively on a lot of teams,” he said. “That’s the word that I’m hearing.”
Nash said the Nets’ coaching staff and players have discussed not only ways of pumping energy onto the court despite the silence of the arena, but also how to take advantage of their ability to hear one another at all times. He pointed out that when a stadium is full, there’s no guarantee every player will hear the play call.
But the word from those who competed in the bubble, Nash said, is that the lack of fans allowed coaches to “really dictate and help your team get into its schemes and in the right positions and talk them through different scenarios.”
“The teams that are more willing to accept that this isn’t going to be regular and this is going to be constantly in flux, I think, [have] an advantage,” he added. “So, I don’t know if it’s a good thing to start off my coaching career with no fans yelling at me to call a time out or whatever they want to say or if it’s a bad thing because our business loves having fans and the competitive nature of the fans aids and inspires.
“Let’s hope they come back soon, but obviously, that means we have a healthy society in some stretch.”
As a restricted free agent this offseason, point guard Chris Chiozza said he had offers to play elsewhere — but none that compared to chasing a title with the Nets.
“I had a few other options, but it was two-ways and opportunities that I didn’t think was as good as being here, trying to stay here and being on a team that’s gonna compete for a championship,” the 25-year-old said on a Zoom call Thursday.
Chiozza, who first signed in Brooklyn on a two-way contract in January, re-signed with the Nets earlier this month, just before the start of training camp. The terms of the deal were not made public.
After splitting games between the Nets and Wizards last season, Chiozza averaged just over five points and three assists in a little more than 14 minutes per game. In 18 games with the Nets, he averaged 6.4 points in 15.5 minutes. Chiozza also started 10 games with Brooklyn’s G-League affiliate, the Long Island Nets, averaging 13.3 points and 5.6 assists.