Walking into the TD Garden before Sunday’s game, Kyrie Irving was being followed by cameramen for that “player walking into arena pregame” shot that is standard for NBA games, college football games, Premier League soccer games and plenty of other sports. Irving’s comment was, “I’m not gonna miss any of this s*** when I’m done playing.”
After the game, where the Celtics were easily handled by the Rockets, Irving gave short answers to every question that came his way.
Asked about it Monday, Irving said he doesn’t like all the focus on celebrity and where he plays next and not basketball.
Here’s the money quote:
“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.”
Irving doesn’t like the fact he doesn’t control the narrative, and with the way the Celtics are playing — and with him acting disengaged from the team — his leadership and the team are being called into question. He left Cleveland to get out of LeBron James‘ shadow, but this is what being in the direct spotlight is like.
Tuning out all that noise, and getting the team to do the same and start to play near its potential, is life for an elite player in the NBA now. Like it or not. It’s part of the job description for Irving.