At 2:44 p.m. ET on Oct. 27, roughly five hours before the Brooklyn Nets were set to take on the Dallas Mavericks at home, Kyrie Irving hit send on a tweet.

The post, without any text, was an Amazon link to a movie called "Hebrews to Negroes: Wake Up Black America," centered on antisemitic tropes and Holocaust denial. Soon thereafter, the backlash and fallout began, the 12-year veteran yet again unwittingly engulfing the Brooklyn Nets and NBA in a controversy that transcended the game. Team sources say dread filled the minds of many, an all-too familiar feeling during Irving's three-and-a half year tenure with the Nets.

Two days later, in front of assembled media, Irving failed to apologize and say whether he held antisemitic beliefs. A week later, as pressures internal and external squeezed the organization, the team held another news conference. Once again, Irving failed to apologize or clearly answer whether he was antisemitic -- like many within the Nets organization and the league office had hoped. Later that night, Irving was suspended for at least five games without pay, the organization stating in a release that Irving was "currently unfit to be associated with the Brooklyn Nets." Hours later, Irving finally apologized in an Instagram post after the suspension became official.

Here's a look inside his return, two weeks unlike any other in recent league history.


Tuesday, Nov. 15, Sacramento, Golden1 Center

Thirteen days into Irving's suspension -- and five days prior to his return to the Nets

Backup guard Patty Mills has been in the NBA for 14 seasons and can't remember a stretch like the Nets are in right now.

On top of the uncertainty surrounding Irving, and the adjustments still being made under new coach Jacque Vaughn, they've just given up a season-high 153 points to a young Sacramento Kings team. Inside the visitors' locker room, Nets players dress quietly after the embarrassing performance as they prepare for a team dinner at a local Chinese restaurant.

"This is a first for me," Mills said of the Nets' latest ups and downs.

Any excitement from Brooklyn's win against the LA Clippers a few days earlier has evaporated. The Nets have dropped two straight games -- the first to a 2-10 Los Angeles Lakers team playing without LeBron James and the second to this Kings team that began the season with a Las Vegas over-under of 33.5 wins.

Nets swingman Ben Simmons, who had played his best game of the season, scoring 11 points and grabbing five rebounds in 20 minutes off the bench, calls the performance "unacceptable."

Irving's absence hangs over everything and everyone.

"It's a lot of adversity, it feels like [one] adversity after the other," Mills said. "I think what you can hope for is this will pay off at some point. We learn from things. We learn about ourselves, so that we can come out at the end of it."