NEW YORK, NEW YORK - JANUARY 29: Kyrie Irving #11 of the Brooklyn Nets celebrates a 125-115 win against the Detroit Pistons during their game at Barclays Center on January 29, 2020 in New York City. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.
(Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

An emotional Kyrie Irving opens up about Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna, and the young ballplayers who passed away on Sunday.

Playing in his first game since Kobe Bryant‘s untimely death was an emotional experience for Kyrie Irving. The point guard helped lead the Brooklyn Nets to a 125-115 victory over the Detroit Pistons.

Irving and Bryant were exceptionally close and understandably, the news of Kobe’s passing hit Irving hard. The mercurial point guard didn’t play against the New York Knicks on Sunday after learning the news.

“It’s just hard to even conjure up the words,” Irving said. “You try to find a clear-cut message that you would send to Gigi and Kobe and everybody that lost their lives in such a tragedy like that. It’s hard.

“I’ve been trying to do this the last few days and just trying to get ready for a moment like this. I just gotta let it be, let it flow. I know he’s now watching, as well as Gigi, as well as the young ballplayers that were on the plane as well. I was just with them at the Mamba Academy working out with them in the summertime.

“It’s heartbreaking for all of us, but I’m not the only one dealing with something. I think the most beautiful thing is that it’s connecting all of us.”

It’s clear from Irving’s comments that he’s still trying to process everything that has transpired over the last few days. Losing a loved one is never easy and trying to process that grief in the public eye is something only a handful of people endure.

Given the difficult circumstances, Irving was exceptional. He poured in 20 points and five assists in the win over Detroit. Another friend of Bryant’s, Spencer Dinwiddie, led the way for Brooklyn, scoring 28 points and doling out eight assists.

The Nets have one night off before hosting the Chicago Bulls on Friday (7:30 p.m. ET).

NY/NJ hoops reporter (NBA/NCAA) & sports betting writer for XL Media. Never had the makings of a varsity athlete.