A day after Kyrie Irving dropped 60 against Orlando, ESPN analyst Stephen A. Smith stressed the importance of his presence on the Nets.
Speaking on NBA Today, the esteemed analyst and insider made the claim that without Irving as a full-time participant, the Nets might not make it out of the first round of the playoffs.
"The biggest pressure on Kevin Durant is to ingratiate himself with the mayor of New York so he can lift this mandate. That's really where the pressure lies rather than calling him out and potentially exacerbating the situation where you irritate him and he's not inclined in any way to appease you in any kind of way, shape, form, or fashion. Take the brother out to dinner, treat him, take a chauffeur out to get him. Do something to lift this ridiculous mandate because you've got no shot without the service of Kyrie Irving. That's what you need. If you don't have Kyrie Irving, the Brooklyn Nets, I don't believe, are going past the first round."
Statistically, Irving is having one of his best seasons ever. He's averaging a career-high 27.7 points per game on 49% shooting.
Unfortunately, New York City's vaccine mandates have made it impossible for him to play during home games, and he has missed the majority of the season as a result. With only 19 games under his belt, the Nets have struggled to meet expectations.
But as optimism for a change in the rules continues to grow, so do the chances that Irving is able to return to full-time status.
If you ask Stephen A., the nets need him if they want any chance of making a deep playoff run. after watching his 60-point performance on Tuesday, many around the league are inclined to agree.