Most epic tales are written in at least three parts. Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, The Avengers, the list goes on. The first part is introduction, the second part involves hardships and defeats, and the finale leads to redemption and victory.
Kyrie Irving has already written the first two parts of his story as a Boston Celtic. The first installment was filled with giddy introductions, high expectations, and promises of future glory. The second was mired with unmet expectations, frustrations, and uncertainty. It is now up to Kyrie to write the next chapter of his Boston legacy. Will it also be his last?
“If you guys will have me back, I plan on re-signing here.”
Irving wanted a chance to be the face of a franchise. He removed himself from the shadow of LeBron James and found his own spotlight in Boston. The Celtics are the antithesis of the organization he left in Cleveland. They offer an even tempered ownership group, steady basketball leadership, and a revered head coach with job security. Irving was knighted and set in the vanguard position. Everything was set up for glory.
Two injuries derailed this storybook beginning, but even that dark cloud produced a silver lining that showcased the talents of the Celtics young roster. Irving could see the path laid clear and could taste the victory already. He was ready to commit himself to the kingdom for the long haul.
”Ask me July 1st”
Everything was set up for a triumphant campaign where Irving could take his seat atop the Eastern Conference in the throne vacated by LeBron. Then the second act began and the ground beneath him began to crumble. Missteps and misfortune piled one upon the other, leading to an uneven and ultimately unsatisfying result. The final pages of this script have yet to be typed out, but most can see where the plot is headed.
The hero of this story shares the blame for much of the misery. Much like a Shakespearean tragedy, his own actions have led to his undoing. He’s learning this leadership thing on the job and he hasn’t always had the best examples in the past. Ultimately though it is up to him to own this. Likewise, it is up to him to take the next step.
“I’m an actual genius when it comes to this game.”
The next act is entirely up to Kyrie Irving himself and the direction of a franchise hangs in the balance. He can decide that he has unfinished business in Boston, take the largest payday anyone can offer him, and trust in the competent management to make the necessary moves to maximize his prodigious skill set. Or he can decide that he’d rather take his talents to South Anywhere-but-here and end this tale in defeat.
As disappointed and frustrated as Celtics fans are in his performance this season, Danny Ainge and the Celtics will (correctly) focus all their efforts on re-signing Irving for the long term and make the necessary changes needed to put a more cohesive team around him. That may mean converting some of the younger players into Anthony Davis. It will certainly mean making difficult decisions that might not be popular with fans, but since when has Danny been shy about that?
Winning cures all ills and if this Irving bounces back with a squad that fits together better, his legacy would take on a “persevering through adversity” type tone before you can say “Uncle Drew 2.”
However, if he decides to walk away, the Celtics will pivot quickly and move on without him. Ainge gave up a Brooklyn pick that turned into Collin Sexton and a damaged goods Isaiah Thomas in exchange for 1.5 healthy seasons of Kyrie Irving. That’s a gamble he’ll make every time and he might yet make a similar deal for Davis (with or without Irving). If not, he’ll still be armed with a core of Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Marcus Smart, Gordon Hayward, Al Horford, and several first round picks. There are several different directions he and his staff of playwrights can go with that cast of characters.
Still, that decision remains in Irving’s indecipherable hands. Will he decide to continue his epic journey as a Celtic, recharged and rearmed for future battles? Or will he snap his fingers and roll the credits leaving his legacy unfinished and crumbling into dust?
Coming soon to a theater near you.