Kyrie Irving played his first game for the Brooklyn Nets this season against the Indiana Pacers following the front office's decision to play him in a part-time role. According to Nets president Joe Tsai, his religion is to win, and he believes he has the best chance to do so with Kyrie on the floor.
Irving's return has sparked a lot of mixed reactions from pundits. Some, like Shaquille O'Neal, believe the Nets do not need him, while others like Kendrick Perkins think it is the right move.
Speaking on ESPN's First Take ahead of Kyrie Irving's debut, Perkins talked about how much another chip will mean for Kyrie Irving's legacy and how much of a boost his return will be for the Nets.
"You know what? It will mean everything, and it will shut a lot of haters up, including myself. I fall in that category as being a Kyrie hater at times, not because of what he does on the court. It's his actions outside of basketball."
"When you think about Kyrie Irving and what he's already done for the game of basketball, we talking about one of the guys that probably had the greatest handles of all time. One of the best finishers around the basket. I mean, the guy has the complete package offensively, maybe top five most skilled players ever. So, for him to come back and to help the Brooklyn Nets win a championship, it does everything for Kyrie's legacy," added Perkins.
"I always said this, 'give me a part-time Kyrie than a no time Kyrie.' Because I know on the road you need that superstar power," said the former NBA player.
Looking at it critically, Perk has a point, especially with James Harden struggling earlier in the season. What the Nets seemed to need was a reunion of their Big 3 and that could do wonders for them down the stretch.
Kyrie Irving shines in his season debut against the Pacers
With a 22-point performance, Kyrie Irving marked his return to the NBA following an extended absence due to his refusal to take the COVID-19 vaccine. Added to that were three rebounds, four assists, three steals and a block.
Although it was a slow start for Kyrie, missing all three attempts in the first quarter, he got going early in the second. The veteran guard also struggled to shoot three-pointers, resulting in all his made baskets coming from mid-range jumpers, layups, and the free-throw line.
It was a close contest with Domantas Sabonis and Lance Stephenson leading the charge for the Pacers, but Kyrie showed his worth in the second half and helped the Nets overturn a 7-point deficit at halftime.
The Nets will return to Barclays Center to host the Milwaukee Bucks and San Antonio Spurs before getting back on the road. It was an impressive debut for Kyrie, but we will not see him play until the Nets travel to Portland on January 10 to take on the Trail Blazers.