A season that started with championship hopes and Kyrie Irving saying he’d re-signed with the Celtics ended with a second-round loss to the Bucks and questions about Irving’s future.
Irving, via Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston:
“Truth be told, it’s no time to be disappointed. You take your lessons, you take your ass-whipping that they handed us, and you move on,” said Irving. “It’s a basketball journey. Obviously, you want to keep playing but they put a halt to that. They deserved this series, they wanted it, and I’m looking forward to seeing them go to the Eastern Conference Finals and the next opponent.
“It was a great opponent for me to play against for the rest of my career because I know I won’t forget something like this, and the taste of defeat in this type of style, being down 1-4, I haven’t felt. For me, it’s just moving on to the next thing, and just seeing where that ends up.”
“I’m going to be honest, I’m just trying to get back to Boston first, safely. See my family, decompress, do what human beings do,” he said.
This is probably a healthy attitude. Dwelling on a basketball game won’t get Irving anywhere. Misery can provide motivation, but that’s not the only way to move forward productively. And this way will put Irving, and therefore those around him, in better moods.
But, for players deeply invested in their team winning, it’s usually difficult to get to this place so quickly. Losing stings. It’s natural to feel that, especially the night of an elimination game.
Is Irving that good at putting setbacks behind him? Or was he just not that invested in the Celtics in the first place?
Considering how he handled this season – leadership missteps, backtracking on a pledge to re-sign with Boston, shaky play in this second round – it’s fair to question his commitment to the Celtics.
Also: Irving has lost a series 4-1 before, the 2017 NBA Finals with the Cavaliers to the Warriors. As much as Irving wants to move past his time in Cleveland, that happened.