Throughout the 2018-19 NBA season and heading into free agency, both Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving were expected to make their new homes in New York City. The New York Knicks were considered to be an option, but both players opted to join the Brooklyn Nets. Now, the Knicks and the fanbase have to be reminded of that fact every time they attend a home game due to the massive Irving billboard next to Madison Square Garden.
"In my heart, I knew I always wanted to play at home," a billboard next to MSG reads. Accompanying the quote is a photo of Irving, who grew up in the New York suburb of West Orange, New Jersey. Originally born in Australia, Irving actually grew up as a fan of the Nets.
This is the second Nets-related billboard that has made an appearance near the Knicks' home arena. In 2010, a billboard announcing the Nets' move to Brooklyn appeared across the street from MSG, resulting in owner James Dolan having a sitdown with former Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov and former commissioner David Stern.
New @KyrieIrving billboard on the corner of Madison Square Garden 👀November 5, 2019
The quote is actually from a video that Irving recorded back in July to reveal that he would be heading to New York. The former Boston Celtics' star had made it clear prior to free agency that he would be leaving for another home, and this Instagram post provided the destination.
“In my heart, I knew I always wanted to play at home,” Irving said. “And home is where my heart is. And it’s always been there. It’s simply because of such a great love that I have for my family and the way I grew up. I wouldn’t change anything about the experience, at all. It’s brought me back here, and that’s home. And home is where my family is. Home is where I want my legacy to continue. I’m happy to be in Brooklyn.”
Originally the first overall pick of the 2011 NBA Draft, Irving landed with the Cleveland Cavaliers and made an immediate impact. He was named the NBA Rookie of the Year and earned a spot on the All-Rookie Team.
After six years with the Cavaliers and a historic NBA Championship in 2016, Irving departed for the Boston Celtics. While he was named an NBA All-Star both seasons, the future member of the Nets also opted out of his contract with the team to join free agency early.
When this news broke, there was hope among Knicks fans that he would be heading to Madison Square Garden. Technically, he did, but only in billboard form.
Photo Credit: Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE/Getty