Kyrie Irving feels embraced by the Dallas community: ‘I have been accepted way beyond just my talent on the court’

Mike Battaglino
3 Min Read
Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Kyrie Irving said he feels “accepted” playing for the Dallas Mavericks, something that maybe he did not experience at other stops in his NBA career.

The 31-year-old is heading toward the conclusion of his first full season with the Mavericks after arriving in a trade from the Brooklyn Nets in February 2023.

His solid season on the court so far may also be contributing to his reported “deep desire” to play for Team USA at the upcoming 2024 Paris Olympics this summer.

His time with the Nets, where he was teamed with Kevin Durant and James Harden, wound up as a colossal failure by almost any measure. In the three full seasons he was with Brooklyn, he appeared in just 103 regular season games and the Nets won just one playoff series. In addition, he also encountered several controversies off the court as he wasn’t shy about expressing his opinions on a variety of topics.

Brooklyn ultimately decided to change course, and Durant is now with the Phoenix Suns, Harden is now with the Los Angeles Clippers, and the Nets this season are 26-44 and made an in-season coaching change.

Meanwhile, Irving has helped Dallas to sixth place in the Western Conference with a 41-29 record. The Mavericks are in a tight race with the Suns and Sacramento Kings to hold onto that position, which would secure a playoff berth and avoid having to compete in the play-in round.

Irving is averaging 25.3 points, 5.1 rebounds and 5.3 assists in his 48 appearances this season. An NBA champion with the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2016, he has won just two playoff series while in uniform since the 2017 playoffs.

His likely Hall of Fame career also includes a two-season stint with the Boston Celtics. He re-signed with the Mavericks this offseason, getting a three-year contract worth reportedly worth $126 million.

It turns out money may not have been the most important thing to Irving, based on his comments about how he feels as part of the Dallas community. Perhaps the latter stages of his playing days will prove more satisfying than some of the turbulent times he had elsewhere in the past.

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Mike is a veteran journalist who has focused on New York sports. He has covered the NBA and NFL for almost three decades and is still waiting for the next championship for the Knicks and Jets.