Now, the Brooklyn Nets star has inadvertently added more fuel to the fire after it was announced that he will miss the Nets' home game against the Celtics.
Speculation that Irving was dodging games against his former teams, rather than actually being injured, are now being taken even more seriously following the news about the Nets' next home game. Irving has not played in two weeks after a shoulder injury, which the team has described as an "impingement," forced him to sit.
Irving has faced a media firestorm after seemingly backing down from challenges against his former teams. His reunion with the Celtics in particular was set to be tense and likely outright hostile. After missing the game, Irving had some words to say on Instagram:
Whatever the reason for his absence, the game has suffered for it. Irving is a polarizing figure off the court, but on it he is among the best players in the NBA at his position.
Contrary to expectations, the Nets have actually excelled in recent games that Irving has not played in. The Nets are 5-2 over that span, with the only two losses coming against the Pacers and Celtics.
However, the timing of yet another convenient absence is helping to feed the media fire, which the Nets and Irving unfortunately won't be able to avoid.