NEW YORK (AP) — Kyrie Irving spoke to reporters Monday for the first time this season, clarifying that he wasn’t referring to the media last week when he said he doesn’t talk to pawns.

A day after making a strong preseason debut for the Brooklyn Nets, Irving spoke for more than 15 minutes on a Zoom interview, explaining why he has been guarded in his comments.

Irving had not done any interviews since NBA teams began holding media sessions on Dec. 1. Both he and the Nets were fined $25,000 last week for his refusal to do league-mandated media availabilities.

He responded with an Instagram post in which he appeared to be criticizing the media when he said he doesn’t talk to pawns.

“It’s just really how I felt about the mistreatment of certain artists when we get to a certain platform,” Irving said, adding that he wanted “full control” of his message.

The All-Star guard added that he wanted to avoid distractions as he and Kevin Durant return from injuries for their first season playing together in Brooklyn. Irving was sharp Sunday, scoring 18 points while playing only in the first half in a victory over Washington.

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He also praised first-year coach Steve Nash on Monday. While doing a podcast with Durant this summer, he had said the Nets didn’t see themselves as having a coach.

“I think I’ve got to take back my comments in terms of the head coach a few months ago,” Irving said. “But it’s just like, man, we have such a great synergy. Everyone feels like we’re coaching one another to be better.”

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