Irving rehabbing shoulder after shot, still may need surgery

Sports
Kyrie Irving, Caris LeVert

Injured Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving, center left, who has a right shoulder injury, reacts on the sideline with Caris LeVert, center right, who is also injured, during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the New York Knicks, Thursday, Dec. 26, 2019, in New York. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

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NEW YORK (AP) — Kyrie Irving will keep rehabbing his right shoulder in hopes of rejoining the Brooklyn Nets this season, though acknowledged that he may need surgery.

Irving said Saturday he chose to get a cortisone shot late last month instead of having arthroscopic surgery, with the goal of playing for the first time since the middle of November. He said his shoulder problem began with overuse near the end of training camp and got worse early in the regular season.

He finally stopped playing after a Nov. 14 game in Denver and the Nets have said his injury is an impingement. Irving said he also had bursitis in the shoulder.

He said surgery would knock him out for at least a couple months, but he would prefer first to keep working toward playing this season, his first in Brooklyn.

“I want to go out and play,” Irving said, “so just continue to rehab and live the results of me going out there and giving it an actual shot, going out there, being with the guys, seeing where we can land and then move forward after the season.”

He signed with Brooklyn in July but was hurt even before training camp when he was hit in the face while scrimmaging with teammates. He was hit again when he returned for an exhibition game in China, forcing him back to the sidelines.

Irving said he then tried to make up for lost time by doing extra shooting, even after games.

“It got to the point where I had overused it,” Irving said.

The All-Star point guard kept playing as the Nets struggled at the beginning of the season, even as he said the pain worsened after a home game against New Orleans on Nov. 4. The Nets then went on a five-game road trip, where Irving continued to play until the pain got so bad he was having trouble lifting his shoulder.

“It really is disheartening when you’re working your tail off to be a certain level and then your shooting shoulder just starts to give out on you a little bit,” Irving said.

The Nets have given no timetable for his return, saying only that he had been able to do work on the court but nothing where he would absorb contact.

Irving acknowledged the mental struggles he faced in Boston last season after the death of his grandfather. He said being injured will always be a mental strain, but he said he is in a better place after getting the shot.

“This is something I’ve spent the majority of my life working to do at a very high level and I want to do it at the best level I can, which is greatness,” Irving said. “And when you’re injured and especially when your team needs you, yeah, of course you go home and you’re like, ‘Why am I not playing yet? When is this going to turn? Where is the corner when I’m going to be turn and be well enough health-wise to go out there and play at a high level?’”

Irving averaged 28.5 points in 11 games.

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