NEW YORK -- As the Brooklyn Nets embark on the 2022-23 campaign, they do so hoping they can change the narrative surrounding their team and put the focus back on the floor instead of making headlines off of it.
"We want to erase everything that was said about our team the last few years in terms of our weaknesses," Kyrie Irving said Saturday. "We want to turn those into our strengths -- and it starts with developing good practice habits. And going out in the game and not just talking about it and actually doing it."
Irving's comments come after a tumultuous summer for the Nets, which included star forward Kevin Durant's trade request, one he ultimately pulled back, and the uncertainty surrounding Irving's future with the organization.
Irving admitted that trying to change the image surrounding the group, and how it plays together, is something the team has discussed.
"I'm human," Irving said. "We're human. A lot of us have not necessarily played all the games that we would have wanted to -- it's easy again to say we have a chip on our shoulder, but it's a little bit deeper than that. We just want to enjoy playing the game that we love, but play it at a high level where we're not only making our families proud, but we're doing everything we can to make each other good."
Specifically, the Nets are hoping to bolster their defensive intensity with two more games left in the preseason. Nets coach Steve Nash acknowledged after Thursday's 109-80 preseason loss to the Miami Heat that he wasn't pleased with his group's approach to the game -- a sentiment that Irving expounded upon after a longer than usual film and practice session on Saturday.
"Everybody has the space to speak," Irving said. "Everybody's equal here. So anybody, in the film room, wants to ask something, they can and that's the way we approach it. So there was a lot of talking going on in film, we know we can play better. It is just preseason, but we don't want that to be something that makes us passive. 'Nah, it's just preseason.' We're getting ready for a long journey. Guys are going to be coming at us."
Irving, who did not play in Thursday's game after he and his wife welcomed a baby boy to the world on Tuesday, said that teammates were coming up to him at times during Thursday's game to ask about what he was seeing on the floor and "how they can get better."
"We say 'trust on three,' but it takes a while to build that," Irving said. "And we don't want to make any excuses in terms of what the opponents are doing, what the refs are doing, anybody else is doing. We just want to stay where we are."
Irving appeared to be in a great place Saturday -- wearing a big smile while describing what he has been doing for his wife after the birth of the couple's baby.
"My wife is a warrior," Irving said. "Women are everything ... I've just been playing caretaker at home, cooking for her. Making sure her feet are massaged. Making sure I'm doing everything possible as a husband to make sure she's taken care of."