Kyrie Irving makes historic return to the court dealing with shoulder injury

Duke basketball alum Kyrie Irving (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
Duke basketball alum Kyrie Irving (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images) /

The long-awaited return of Kyrie Irving was made on Sunday night and the former Duke Basketball star had a historic debut.

The Brooklyn Nets arguably had the best offseason in the NBA, but its two big signings, Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, have barely been on the floor.

Durant will be out for the season as he continues to recover from a ruptured Achilles but Irving was the only player Brooklyn counted on to help lead the team back to the playoffs.

More from Ball Durham

However, the former Blue Devil was out for 26 games due to a shoulder surgery but on Sunday night the former All-Star and NBA Champion made his return to the Brooklyn hardwood as the Nets hosted the Atlanta Hawks.

In just 20 minutes of action, Irving scored 21 points on 10-of-11 shooting from the field as the Nets rolled over Atlanta, 108-86. Irving made his lone attempt from 3-point range and also racked up four rebounds, three assists, and one steal.

The former No. 1 overall pick shot a career-best 90.9 percent from the floor and it was the best field goal percentage a player had coming back from an extended injury absence with a minimum of ten field goal attempts.

Sunday night was the first time Irving was on the floor since November 14 and in the 26 games he missed, the Nets were 13-13, but just 4-8 against teams above .500.

Kyrie Irving has played in 12 games this season and is averaging 27.9 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 6.8 assists, and 1.1 steals per game on 46.4 percent shooting.

On the other side, Cam Reddish led the Hawks with 20 points as Trae Young sat out with a left hamstring injury and former Blue Devil Jabari Parker also did not play due to a right shoulder injury.

ALSO READ: The 100 greatest Blue Devils under Coach K

The Brooklyn Nets are currently 18-20 and the No. 7 seed in the Eastern Conference while the Hawks are a lowly 8-32 and at the bottom of the standings in the conference.