I first must say that there will be a good majority of the Celtics fan base that will not agree with this piece. That is perfectly fine. My goal with this post is to perhaps think of Kyrie Irving and his tenure in Boston in a different, more favorable light. I am not here to dissect his every thought and action but to push some of that aside to appreciate Kyrie as the incredible basketball player that, without injury, could have taken the Celtics to the NBA Finals. Let’s begin.
The two-years of Kyrie Irving in a Boston Celtics jersey was a complete roller coaster from start to finish. He was first traded to Boston after wanting to get out of Cleveland and start his own journey without playing under LeBron James as he did for a good portion of his career. Kyrie wanted to lead and bring a championship mentality to a young, up-and-coming team. The Celtics were seemingly the perfect fit.
The first season with the team did not go as planned when an injury shut down Kyrie’s season before the playoffs even began. This was the first sign of distaste and disappointment from the Celtics faithful in a situation he simply couldn’t control. Then, coming into a 2018-2019 season with lofty expectations, the wheels completely came off and Kyrie became public enemy #1 after a litany of questionable things were continuously said throughout the season. The damage was done, the support was lost, and now he is headed to Brooklyn to try his luck there.
Even with all the boneheaded comments throughout the season, I wholeheartedly believe that Kyrie Irving meant what he said at the infamous season ticket holder event back in October. He wanted to become the hero and hang another banner in the rafters while having a city behind him. It was an exciting moment for him on the big stage, and he gave a commitment to have the fans behind him to start the season. Should he have given this commitment? Maybe not, but in the moment, you have to see it from his perspective. Kyrie just wanted a city to call home and to go out each night and play the game he loves.
Since the inevitability of his decision to leave, there have been things said all across the sports media that have been surprising about Kyrie. People have just been dragging his name through the mud, some saying he will be the most hated Boston sports athlete in history. I just do not understand where that thought process is coming from.
I realize that he should not have made many of the comments singling out the young players on the team. He brought on the criticism, and that is a mistake he must learn from if he ever wants to be a leader. That being said, I am not going to discount how much he brought to this Celtics team and the incredible basketball player he is.
The countless games where he took over and won for the Celtics cannot be forgotten because of a frenzied media who was out for his blood. For the whole second half of the season, every sentence was critiqued to a down right unfair level for a guy who is just trying to go about his life. He is a 27-year-old superstar that has been under a microscope his whole life. One cannot imagine how much stress and pressure that puts on a person.
Through all this commotion, Kyrie had one of his best all around seasons of his career. He raised his game in other areas outside of his main skill of scoring. He finished the season with a career-high in assists and his “clutch” game statistics were among the best in the league. Looking back, this season can be more than just focusing on his off court antics. Celtics Nation needs to remember the good times with Kyrie and then turn the page to Kemba Walker.
Bottom line is that Kyrie Irving is a very misunderstood person. It seems he is trying to be a leader while still fully developing his leadership qualities. His view on the world is very different, and I believe makes it hard for people to relate to. It is a philosophical way of looking at things that is hard to grasp. I for sure do not understand it all, but that also means you do not have to say it is wrong. Through all this drama, he only wants to be a good guy.
All year long he struggled to find the way to lead this Celtics team. It was hard to get his ego and thought process on the same page with everyone else. Of course his media comments made it tough, but there were many times when you could see a clear disconnect between everyone on the team. He looked like as he was never comfortable with the situation. It may have been that he was traded to Boston instead of choosing a place for himself.
The next year will be very interesting for Kyrie Irving. He is off to Brooklyn and will have his first year there in a similar role that he faced in Boston. Kyrie will be the best player on the team with young guys looking up to him while Kevin Durant recovers from his ruptured Achilles. The New York media will quickly find out if he has learned from his mistakes in Boston. In a way, Kyrie will be dealing with his own Achilles’ heel; if he brings his antics with him, he and the Nets will fail again. However, if Kyrie can just find his fit and play the game he loves, then his incredible talent will speak for itself.
Celtics fans do not need to get upset when talking about Kyrie. Instead, think back to the positive times we all had together and just what a fantastic player he was to watch each and every game.