- The Boston Celtics are in a rut, and great attention has been paid to the behaviour of Kyrie Irving.
- According to a report, Irving has become “disengaged and detached” from the Celtics, with some noting a change in his behaviour since February.
- Irving has been critical at times of the young players on the Celtics and often gotten into tense exchanges with media members while questioning their motives.
The main focus of the Boston Celtics’ rocky, up-and-down season has been the goings-on of Kyrie Irving.
The Celtics appear to have hit a new low, losing five of their last six games and seven of their last 10, and Irving’s behaviour has seemed to baffle members of the NBA world as well as the Celtics themselves.
According to The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor, Irving has become “disengaged and detached” from the Celtics in recent weeks. Some within the Celtics reportedly noticed a change in Irving’s behaviour in February, when he walked back a preseason commitment to re-signing with the Celtics and said he didn’t “owe anyone s—.”
“Sources around the team told me that Irving’s persona has changed, too: He’s become disengaged and detached from those around the team. There is talk that Irving’s friendships on the team start and end with Tatum, with whom he shares an agent. Two sources peg Irving’s change in demeanour to early February, around the time he was asked about the possibility of joining the New York Knicks next season.”
Irving has played well on the court, but off of it, he has created headlines with his critical questioning of the Celtics’ young players. He has admitted to struggling with leading the team, even calling LeBron James to make a personal apology for their falling-out in Cleveland. Some interpreted the move as another shot at the Celtics’ young players.
There has also been the matter of Irving’s media sessions, which have waffled between long and tense, with Irving questioning the role and motive of the media, or Irving going into a shell and giving terse, vague answers.
Irving gave the latter on Sunday after a loss to the Houston Rockets in which the Celtics trailed by as many as 28 points. He muttered 25 total words before a Celtics staffer ended the session.
Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe reported that while Al Horford addressed reporters following the loss, Irving stood off to the side, grumbling about the quality of questions Horford was being asked.
Before the loss to the Rockets on Sunday, Irving was seen walking into the arena, followed by TV cameras, saying, “I’m not gonna miss any of this s— when I’m done playing.”
— ruchi (@ruchijain4_) March 3, 2019
Asked about the comment on Monday, Irving told reporters that he doesn’t want to be famous.
Kyrie Irving today: “I didn’t really come into this game to be cameras in my face, be famous, be a celebrity, whatever embodies that. It’s a little hard for me. I wanted those things when I was younger, but now … I just want to play basketball at a very high level.”
— Tom Westerholm (@Tom_NBA) March 4, 2019
Some in the NBA world questioned Irving’s comments, noting that he starred in the film “Uncle Drew” last summer and is reportedly set to star in a movie about the Skirvin Hotel in Oklahoma City.
Irving has recited the line about playing high-level basketball before. After a loss to the Portland Trail Blazers last week, Irving said he was ready for the playoffs to begin.
“I can’t wait for all this other B.S. about the regular season, keep getting better, talking over and over and over again about what we can do to keep getting better playing in the regular season,” Irving said. “I just want to be at the highest level playing.”
Irving could turn a corner and bring his game to a new level once the postseason begins. Perhaps that could ignite a Celtics team that was a preseason contender but has not had any sustained stretches of good basketball this season.
However, with three-quarters of the season now past, it looks increasingly like there are real, deep-rooted issues with Irving and the Celtics. If they can’t flip the switch in the playoffs, Irving will only have to answer more questions about the season and his future with the team.
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