Irving looks to 'move forward' after return, declines to discuss pre-game Israel United of Christ gathering

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Kyrie Irving never doubted he would return for the Brooklyn Nets after his team-imposed suspension, while he declined to answer questions about the Israel United in Christ group that turned out at Barclays Center in support of him.

Irving made his NBA return after eight games out due to suspension for sharing a social media post about a book and film with antisemitic tropes, scoring 14 points in 26 minutes in a 127-115 win over the Memphis Grizzlies.

The All-Star's return to the NBA came after a lengthy remediation process that split opinions, involving the Nets, the league, the NBPA and Irving, who also met with key community members.

"Never had a doubt," Irving responded after the game when asked if he feared the situation may mean he would never play for the Nets again.

On his return, Irving added: "I felt good. I missed my teammates, missed the coaching staff… It felt good to get this game out of the way. Now we can move forward with the rest of the season."

Prior to the game, approximately 100 members from Israel United in Christ group were outside the venue, chanting and handing out flyers headlined "The Truth About Anti-Semitism" and "The Truth about Slavery".

The group has been designated a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center yet appeared to be in support of Irving's social media post that led to his suspension.

"I think that's a conversation for another day. I'm just here to focus on the game," Irving said when asked about the group's presence.

When asked again, he added: "Again I'm just here to focus on the game."

Boston Celtics swingman and NBPA vice-president Jaylen Brown retweeted a social media video of the group, writing "energy".

Brown later backtracked on the post, but did not delete it. He wrote: "I was not aware of what specific group that was outside of Barclay’s Center tonight. I was celebrating the unification of our people welcoming the return of Kyrie to the court, first glance I thought it was a known fraternity the (C/Que’s) Omega psi phi (step’n) showing support."