BOSTON - Boston Celtics guard Kyrie Irving finished with 27 points and a career-high 18 assists in the team’s 117-108 win over the Toronto Raptors on Wednesday night. Despite the impressive performance, all of the focus surrounding the all-star guard will be in regards to his postgame comments about former teammate LeBron James.
The Celtics loss on Saturday in Orlando seemed to push Irving to the brink. He called out his younger teammates in a 400-plus word soliloquy, discussing how this group lacks experience. Everyone heard it, everyone shared their opinion on it. The quotes and their reactions were as public as it gets. What we didn’t see was where Irving went after the press scrum.
On Wednesday night at TD Garden, Irving revealed that he went and called his ex-teammate, LeBron James, in Orlando following the loss, specifically to talk about their time in Cleveland.
“I had to call (James) and tell him,” Irving said. “I apologized for being that young player that wanted everything at his fingertips, and I wanted everything at my threshold. I wanted to be all that and the responsibility of being the best in the world, and leading your team is something that is not meant for many people. Bron was one of those guys who came to Cleveland and tried to show us how to win a championship.”
Irving is still just 26-years-old and continues to evolve as a leader day-by-day. Tonight, he showed that by simply saying, “It’s good to reach out for help.”
“Having that moment to be able to call a guy like that, where we’ve been through so much, where we won a championship together, where we’re one of 31 teams, 32 teams to ever do something like that,” Irving said. “It takes a real man to go back, call somebody and be like, ‘hey, man, I was young. I made some mistakes, I wasn’t seeing the big picture like you were. I didn’t have the end of the season in mind. I just wanted to get my stats and make All-Star games.’”
Irving went on to call all of this a learning experience for him, even bringing his thoughts back to Jaylen Brown’s comments after Monday’s loss in Brooklyn, when the young Celtics wing said (and I’m paraphrasing) they can’t have people (Irving) calling out their teammates - it has to be a good effort.
“I don’t think probably it came out the best way that I wanted it to,” Irving said. “And, coming to that point, I’ve been on a team where things have been said publicly and it’s not the best way to get the most out of the group. ... I want to see them do well and do that where I empowered them. (Jaylen Brown) was right, I’ve got to do the right things and not point fingers at individuals and really realize what we can do as group, despite when we go on the road or the mishaps we may have. I’ve been there to the championship, I’ve tasted it. But I can’t expect that they’re gonna get it. Just really working on my patience and just coming to helping these guys realize that we can do it against the best teams. But in order to be that championship level team, we gotta do that every single day to help our team prove to not just the Raptors or Golden State that we can play with them, but we gotta prove it to every team that we can really pair with them. That’s just the confidence we have to have and the mindset I think we’re getting.”
But hey, let’s not forget, Kyrie Irving had 27 points and 18 assists on 11/19 FG. With or without the call to LeBron, that is one heck of a performance.