Kyrie Irving on Nassir Little dive: ‘No place in our game for it;’ Little: ‘I’d do it again’

Kyrie Irving and Nassir Little in Brooklyn Nets vs. Portland Trail Blazers
Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports
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Kyrie Irving might be the most-skilled point guard in NBA history.

But in a tiny example of why that hasn’t translated to Irving being the best point guard in NBA history, he got upset when Trail Blazers forward Nassir Little tried to make a hustle play near him during Portland’s win over the Nets yesterday.

Irving, via Brian Lewis of the New York Post:

“I was just like man, that’s just not a good play for basketball. I could’ve broke my ankle or done something worse. It’s just there’s no place in our game for it.

“But obviously I get the intent from Nassir, it’s nothing against him. It’s just it could have been avoided. You know, I’m trying to get out the way, he dives between my legs. I’m jumping out of the way at that point. I’m in the air and then I just twist my ankle. But it’s all good. We move on.”

“I’ll be okay. It’s a bad one, just one of those bad plays, you know?” Irving said. “Yeah, I tried to get out of the way, but I just felt like it was unnecessary for him to dive that far away from the ball.

“I was just trying to get out the way. But just unnecessary play. I asked the refs, just, you’ve just got to protect our players out there. It’s just totally unnecessary. I get Nassir wants to go for the ball, but it’s like bro it’s just a bad play. It’s all good.”

Little:

I’m on Little’s side here. Rather than get on the floor for the ball, Irving slowed down and tried to shield Little from the ball by standing near it. Little is just supposed to give up on the play while the ball is still inbounds? He had a viable path to getting it without going through Irving.

It would have been a shame if Irving got hurt on the play. But some perfectly acceptable plays carry higher injury risk than others.

The game isn’t just about ensuring Irving is protected. Basketball is a contact sport, and players should play with that mindset.