“I’m back, I’m happy to be back,” Irving said, according to ESPN’s Malika Andrews. “And we got some great pieces and we just move on and I let my actions and my game speak for itself like I planned on doing. Just needed a pause.”
Irving went on to say that he “had a lot of family and personal stuff going on. So, just want to leave it at that.”
Irving declined to answer whether or not he knew he was violating the league’s coronavirus safety rules and instead simply said – “Happy to be back. Thank you.”
Irving also said that he has to make a “separation” between current political and societal events in the United States and playing in the NBA.
“If you don’t create that distinction,” Irving said, “then it’s easy to feel the weight of the world while you’re going out there and playing. So, I’d be lying sitting here and saying I don’t feel what’s going on in the world, nor am I paying attention to it. I just have a huge responsibility, I feel, to continue to serve my community and the underserved. And when I’m out here playing, it’s continuing to leave knowledge with these guys and commit to something, like I always say, bigger than ourselves.”
“When things become overwhelming in life, you’ve just got to take a step back and realize what’s important,” Irving said. “And I love to play — it’s never been a question. I’ve committed myself, when this wasn’t even a thing for me.”
Irving then went on to apologize to fans upset by his absence, saying he could understand as – “I started off as a fanatic. I’ve been invested in this organization since I was a kid.”
“My commitment has always [been] to bringing something special to Brooklyn,” Irving said. “It wasn’t just a championship. It was unity, equality, just bigger things than just the game itself. It took quite a while and quite a few valleys to get back home, initially. So for me, I’m just taking every day, just being grateful.”