kyrie irving
Kim Klement | USA TODAY Sports

Kyrie Irving might be back in the lineup for the Nets by Sunday, according to ESPN.

The mercurial star is currently suspended indefinitely for his shameful behavior after promoting an antisemitic film. The Nets did not define an end point when they declared he was “currently unfit to be associated” with the team. But they did say he would miss at least five games. The return window opened last weekend. If Irving does play Sunday against the Grizzlies in Brooklyn, he will have missed eight games in total.

Oh, and as should have been expected, it sure sounds like the Nets capitulated and moved the goalposts to get Irving back.

From ESPN:

Irving will miss his eighth consecutive game on Thursday night in Portland, but he is closing in on the end to his suspension after nearly two weeks, sources said.


[NBPA executive director Tamika Tremaglio] and the union have worked closely with Irving, the Nets and the NBA in helping him to author his own remedies to end the suspension, sources said. What might have started out as a rigid list of prerequisites evolved into Irving himself taking ownership of the process, which is what the Nets and the league hoped would be the case, sources said.

There has been pushback on Irving’s “rigid” reinstatement criteria from Jaylen Brown, LeBron James and others. Which is understandable — the NBPA and its members have to oppose any form of discipline with teeth for self-preservation purposes — but also head-scratching.

These are the requirements the Nets reportedly set for Irving:

• Apologize for promoting an antisemitic film and condemn it
• Donate $500,000 to “anti-hate causes”
• Undergo sensitivity training
• Undergo antisemitism training
• Meet with Anti-Defamation League and Jewish community leaders
• Meet with team owner Joseph Tsai

Irving finally apologized on Instagram after he was suspended. And he had previously pledged a $500,000 donation back when he and the Nets were in pay-to-make-it-go-away mode. That’s two boxes checked. And the other four seem like the bare minimum if Irving is truly contrite, no?

We can sit here and debate the hypocrisy of Tsai acting like he is a great humanitarian given his ties to the Chinese Communist Party. And some may quibble with the ADL being involved for political reasons. But beyond that, what the Nets asked of Irving was practical and straightforward. And the team and league have bent over backwards to make it clear they do not believe Irving is an antisemite while clearing a path for his return.

But then again, the Nets have lost two straight, three of five and just gave up 153 points to the Kings. They need Irving back. So to heck with the asks.

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James Kratch can be reached at

James Kratch is the managing editor of ESNY. He previously worked as a Rutgers and Giants (and Mike Francesa) beat reporter for NJ Advance Media.