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Richard Jefferson wants Kyrie Irving to get help if he needs it, as the Nets star was set to miss his fourth straight game Tuesday night for personal reasons.
But Irving’s former teammate and current Nets analyst on YES Network also knows that the videos circulating of Irving purportedly maskless at a birthday party for his sister are a poor look if they prove to be current and legitimate, which the NBA is currently investigating.
“Just the optics — while Kyrie might not care about the optics, the logo, they do care about the optics, especially [with] what’s going on in the world,” Jefferson said Tuesday on ESPN’s “The Jump.”
“You look at players, like you talk about being personally affected by this, Karl-Anthony Towns. So now all of a sudden Kyrie is at a birthday party, then he steps on the court — if [the video] is recent — but how can Karl-Anthony Towns look at a guy like Kyrie and when I’ve lost my mom and my dad has been sick and I see you at birthday parties, you don’t care about anybody else other than your family, your circle and what you’re trying to do.
“It just comes across as very selfish, if it’s true.”
Nets general manager Sean Marks said in a statement Tuesday that the organization was aware of the video and was “reviewing the circumstances with both Kyrie and the NBA in order to determine compliance with health and safety protocols.” The NBA’s COVID-19 protocols prohibit players from going to bars, lounges or clubs, or social gatherings with more than 15 people.
Rockets star James Harden was previously fined for attending a gathering at a club while maskless. Irving could face the same punishment depending on the NBA’s findings.
“There was a lot of talk about James Harden,” Jefferson said. “James Harden was trying at the time, he was like, ‘Oh, I’m done in Houston,’ he’s trying to go someplace else. Well, Brooklyn is where Kyrie wanted to go. Brooklyn is where Kyrie wanted to be. [He and] Kevin Durant, they were like, ‘This is the team, this is what we want to build, establish. We want to do it together and we want to go on this journey.’ So your behavior now doesn’t look like that.”
Irving has been away from the team since last Thursday, with The Post’s Brian Lewis reporting that his absence was related to the Capitol riot. The Nets were 1-2 in his absence entering Tuesday’s game.
“If you’re unhappy for whatever reason, get the help, get the happiness that you need,” Jefferson said. “But understand that the game will continue to move on. Kyrie, if you don’t want to play basketball, we’ll support you. Many players have been activists. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Jim Brown, so many people.
“We’re not trying to take away from your activism if you need time off. But also, if you need time off, then go get it. But right now, it’s just a bad look. He doesn’t owe it to anyone, to us, but the league will continue to move on whether or not he participates in it.”
Jefferson also brought up the need for Irving to communicate with his teammates regarding his leave from the team.
“To not be around your teammates, to not really have any sort of communication, I want Kyrie to get the help that he needs,” Jefferson said. “If he has personal reasons, please, get that help. But you’ve got to communicate with your team, your teammates and then you have to make sure that you’re doing all of the COVID-necessary things because of where we are today in this situation.”