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Nets’ Kyrie Irving celebrated his 28th birthday with a COVID-19 donation

Irving gave $323,000 to feed New Yorkers during the coronavirus crisis

March 25, 2020 John Torenli, Sports Editor
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Nothing has come easy for Kyrie Irving during his first season in Brooklyn.

The six-time NBA All-Star, who came here last summer alongside fellow superstar Kevin Durant, scored 50 points in his Nets debut at Barclays Center on Oct. 23, but missed a potential game-winning shot as the buzzer sounded in a 127-126 overtime loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Irving was the Nets’ leading scorer and assists man and among the top point producers in the NBA when a right-shoulder impingement cost him nearly two months of his first season here in the borough.

Even after he returned from that injury, Irving flashed the form that made him so attractive as Durant’s running mate during General Manager Sean Marks’ summer free-agent windfall.

News for those who live, work and play in Brooklyn and beyond

He poured in a season-high 54 points in a 133-118 rout of the Chicago Bulls in Downtown Brooklyn back on Jan. 31, but went down with a knee injury in Washington D.C, the very next night.

Irving will not take the hardwood again for Brooklyn this year, even if the league returns from this ongoing pause due to the COVID-19 outbreak, after having surgery to repair his right shoulder back in February.

But on Monday, his 28th birthday, Irving decided to so something that will doubtlessly endear him to Nets fans and New Yorkers for the remainder of his tenure here.

The 28-year-old New Jersey native announced that he is donating $323,000 to help feed city resident who are having difficulty putting food on the table during his tumultuous and turbulent time.

“Thank you for all the birthday love, I’m extremely grateful for the support” Irving said via his Instagram account Monday. “Seeing the effects of COVID-19 reach our loved ones, our schools, our jobs and access to food has really impacted me.

“I am excited to partner with @feedingamerica and @lineagelogistics to launch the Share A Meal campaign to help marginalized communities get the food resources they require during his time, and to work with our local partner @cityharvestnyc to distribute 250K meals to my neighbors in need across the NY area. In addition to that I am donating $323K to Feeding America and @lineagelogistics will match $250K of what we raise together.”

The charitable gesture, which is dedicated to Kobe Bryant, the NBA legend and friend of Irving’s who died in a helicopter crash alongside his daughter on Jan. 26, won’t help the Nets make the playoffs or get Irving back on the court in time to help them when or if the season resumes.

But it will go a long way toward getting in-need New Yorkers the food they can’t get for themselves during a time where virtually everyone is struggling to figure out how much more impactful this virus will be on daily life.

“I am asking my fans, friends, family and partners to join me in helping our communities by donating at the link in my bio,” Irving’s post continued.

“Thank you to everyone on the front line working to keep all of us safe, healthy and fed. Together we can change the world one small gesture at a time.”

Irving’s birthday gesture plays well in any arena, regardless of whether his first season here in Brooklyn was an up-and-down struggle that came to an unfortunate end.

Nothing But Net: Interim Nets Head Coach Jacque Vaughn went a perfect 2-0 after replacing Kenny Atkinson, leading Brooklyn to victories over the Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers before the NBA suspended play on March 11. Vaughn, a former NBA player and head coach of the Orlando Magic from 2012 – 2015, was just getting acclimated to his new post when the season was suspended in advance of Brooklyn’s scheduled game in San Francisco against the Golden State Warriors. “I think overall that it’s a great challenge ahead of us, 20 games to make some noise and get the most out of this team and out of this year,” said Vaughn from Sunset Park’s HSS Training Center before Brooklyn topped the Bulls in his debut. “Guys seem excited about that challenge, and also seemed excited about just being open and honest and just transparent with communication and relationships.” … The Nets will have 18 games remaining on their regular-season schedule when the league returns to action, unless the NBA decides to shorten that slate in advance of its postseason, which could run into August if play continues at all this year.

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