Time To Shine
Kyrie Irving hit one of the most iconic shots in NBA history, helping the Cleveland Cavaliers win the 2016 NBA title. Unfortunately for Irving, the Cavaliers belonged to LeBron James. It may be difficult to remember when James could do no wrong for the Cavaliers, but not for Irving. James consistently received all the credit for wins and almost none of the blame for losses. That burden fell upon Cavaliers perimeter shooters, Kevin Love, or Irving.
As a result, a year later Irving forces a trade out of Cleveland and lands with the Boston Celtics. Irving expressed his desire to be a leader as the main reason he left Cleveland, and relished at his opportunity with Boston’s young core. The Celtics already had an All-Star veteran in Al Horford, and had recently-signed All-Star guard Gordon Hayward, both of which could take the pressure off of Irving.
The Celtics came close to the 2018 NBA Finals without Hayward, who missed the entire 2017-2018 season, and Irving, who missed the entire 2017-2018 playoffs. Irving seemed up for the challenge of reintegration. The hype entering the 2018-2019 season was overwhelming, and clearly premature.
Impending Free Agency
With Irving’s impending free agency looming, Kyrie got ahead of the situation and proclaimed he’d resign with the Celtics. Four months and several player-only meetings later, Irving tells reporters to “check with him on July 1st”, indicating he has no intention of signing with the Celtics before the free agency deadline. It seems Irving was fed up with his role as the leader of a group of young stars.
Irving has thought the Earth is flat, which, suffice it to say, shows a serious lack of judgement. Is this a mindset of a max contract guy we want to make quick decisions and lead a young core?
The LeBron Effect
It was reported Irving sought LeBron James to apologize for his past behavior, which escalated the situation between Irving and the Celtics. Irving spoke about his conversation with James indicating he was now dealing with the same issues James dealt with. Irving was now a superstar dealing with young stars lacking the mental fortitude or the work ethic to win.
Irving’s perception is misguided, because LeBron James consistently won before, with, without and after playing with Irving. Besides, James never missed significant time with Cleveland, but when he was absent, it was obvious. The Cavaliers had a losing record without James. The Boston Celtics were 26-11 (.703) in two regular seasons without Irving.
The Celtics were competing in Game 7 of the 2018 Eastern Conference Finals without Irving. This season the Celtics managed to lose in the second round of the playoffs against the Milwaukee Bucks with Irving.
Don’t let Uncle Drew fool you with fancy dribbling and beautiful jump shots. The man behind the mask is Kyrie Irving, an immature contrarian more invested in his personal brand growth. Irving should be using his mercurial talent and veteran experience to lead these young Celtics to the next level. The record reflects your intuition: the Boston Celtics are better off without Kyrie Irving.