Kyrie Irving thinks Giannis Antetokounmpo intentionally injured him
When Kyrie Irving flipped her ankle last year in the Eastern Conference semifinals against the Milwaukee Bucks, it seemed like a common unintentional injury we see so often on NBA hardwood courts. Devin Williams, a coach who works with Irving and other players, says that may not be what we initially thought. Well, at least not in Kyrie’s mind.
Williams admits that Irving didn’t think the play would turn out the way it did. Irving used air quotes to explain Giannis’ role in the trauma when speaking about the incident. Irving Antetokounmpo’s feet say “Just happened to get in the way.”
Hearing this for the first time, Kyrie seemed even more silly. Giannis has a reputation as a superb defensive player, he was the winner of the Defensive Player of the Year award, and his drive in defense has never been questioned. He gives his all in every game and gives his best at both ends of the pitch. Before this incident, no one questioned whether Antetokounmpo was a “dirty” player.
Personally, I didn’t buy it. Back that day, San Antonio Spurs forward Bruce Bowen built a reputation as a dirty player by using the same type of move that Irving is accusing Antetokounmpo of hitting him. Slide that foot under the shooter as they return to the floor, making it seem like an accident.
However, Bowen is not a star in the league, an MVP or a top five player. He was a laner, never the most gifted offensively, who made his life play furiously defensively. And if Bowen sometimes crosses the line (which he often does), that’s the price of him staying in the NBA as long as he did. So in Giannis’ case, he will benefit from the doubt as he is highly rated across the league. And it also helped that Irving was the one who made the claims against Giannis.
Giannis is not the first name that people think of when we hear “dirty player”. However, Antetokounmpo is one of the best players of this era and has become one of the most noticed faces of the league over the past few years. I just find it hard to believe that Antetokounmpo slipped under Irving’s feet with the intention of causing injury. It was something that happened in the heat of battle.
Now, Irving’s mentality on that situation is on full display, which adds spice to a potential rematch in the first round of this year’s playoffs. Today is the final day of the season, and Brooklyn’s win over Indiana guarantees them a home play-in against Cleveland. If they win that match, they will go on as the 7th seed to face Milwaukee in the first round.
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Obviously, this is the matchup most fans are rooting for in the first round, and this new angle brought forth by Irving will add some intensity to the series. Irving, Kevin Durant, and the Nets will have payback on their minds after their season was ended by Milwaukee in a tight seven-game series last postseason.
This time Kyrie is healthy and should have fresh legs after playing only 28 games this season due to COVID vaccination mandates. But now that mandates have has been removed in New York City, Irving will be in every game if they draw Milwaukee in the first round.
There’s a lot of storyline in this game against the Bucks and the Nets. Giannis and KD and are locked in a battle to decide who is the best player in the world right now. Then Durant’s big toe was the difference in last year’s series, and now Irving is essentially calling Giannis a dirty player.
It feels like another exciting series of seven games going on if Brooklyn can hold onto the bargain’s end by catching seven seeds in the east conference. If things go this way, I think we’re in for a great series of seven games among these teams.
As for Kyrie’s ankle injury, I don’t think Giannis had any ill will towards that part of the game. I could be wrong, but Irving is also entitled to his own opinion. I mean, Irving has had much more absurd views in the past, as we all know. His flat earth theory happened, and he would never be disappointed about it.