Earlier in the week, The Athletic’s Joe Vardon added a little more context to Kyrie Irving’s departure from Cleveland and more importantly, his divorce from LeBron James. Much of the he-said-he-said boils down to Irving requesting a trade from the Cavaliers after being part of trade rumors, LeBron not wanting Kyrie to be traded and feeling betrayed after new GM Koby Altman sent him to Boston of all places, and James subsequently not committing to his hometown team long term.
It was a long and twisted road, but Irving is now a Celtic and unlike LeBron, has been pretty forthcoming about his future plans in green. After a summer spent promoting his movie, Uncle Drew, and rehabbing his knee, Kyrie quietly ended speculation over his future with a anti-climatic announcement at a fan event in early October. There was no fanfare of a TV special or letter in The Players’ Tribune. At a Friday shootaround before a blowout win in Atlanta, Irving dropped this little, off-the-cuff bomb:
After marveling at Vince Carter's longevity this morning, Kyrie Irving was asked if he could envision himself playing that long.— Tim Bontemps (@TimBontemps) November 23, 2018
"No, no," he said. "Once I’m done with this, hopefully in my early-to-mid 30s, I’m done with this."
Irving will turn 27 in March and over the summer, will be eligible for a max deal nearing $190M over five years. That’ll be the prime of one of the league’s most talented players. Ideally, that’s five years working with Brad Stevens, spearheading multiple championships runs with Gordon Hayward and Al Horford, and shepherding the future of the franchise with Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum by his side. At the end of that contract, he’d be 32 on the downhill of his career and by Kyrie’s admission, potentially in line for one final contract and last hoorah. All told, that could mean almost a decade of Irving as a Celtic.
Over the holiday, Nike debuted this commercial featuring Irving and his father, Drederick Irving. The elder Irving was a Bronx native, but played his college career at Boston University and professionally in Australia. The ad is a loving tribute to his dad and ends with that tagline: “he’s the reason I wear #11 and I want to be the reason why no one else will.”
The last part echoes over a shot of the Garden’s parquet floor with the banners hanging from the rafters in the foreground. It’s a reminder of what trading for Irving and Irving deciding to stay in Boston is all about. Irving already has a championship with the Cavaliers, a ring he deservedly earned with one of the most iconic shots in recent Finals history. But for Kyrie to make his mark with the Celtics, he’ll have to at least raise Banner #18 before his #11 even comes up in conversation about retirement.