Kyrie Irving has a reputation for being… let’s call it mercurial. Whether he’s gotten along with teammates or been of benefit, overall, to his team, seems to shift depending on who you’re asking.
Needless to say, from a performance standpoint, the Boston Celtics didn’t get where they wanted to go last year. Irving had good advanced numbers, but that didn’t translate into playoff success. Boston got bounced in the second round by the Milwaukee Bucks.
Now Irving is going to be playing for the Brooklyn Nets, waiting for his pal Kevin Durant to heal up before they can really take on the Eastern Conference in 2020-21. Next season will be a proving ground for Irving, who once again will “have his own team” whatever that’s supposed to mean.
It’s not gone well for Irving in the past, and here we are yet again. But for former Celtics teammate Marcus Smart, bashing Irving wasn’t in the cards. As Smart spoke on ESPN’s The Jump this week, he offered a different opinion.
“For me, personally — I can’t speak for other guys — but for me, personally… Kyrie is a great teammate. I’ve had sit-downs with Kyrie where things for me weren’t going too well and he’s pulling me aside. And it wasn’t even really about basketball. Everybody knows what I’ve been through with my mom, losing her and everything. Kyrie’s one of the first guys to text me, to call and talk. When I got back to Boston, he pulled me to the side and we talked. And as far as basketball, just helping me slow the game down and recognize and understand it more. So as a teammate, I love him for it.”
It’s nice that Smart had a good experience with Irving. The former Duke star can be a bit of a goober, and the whole public persona about him being a “different thinker” is a bunch of nonsense. His Flat Earther takes were obnoxious at best, and damaging for young NBA fans at worst.
Smart kicking Irving on his way out the door would be poor form, and the Boston guard has nothing to winge about. He’s got a $52 million contract and a place as a vital cog in the Celtics championship-hopeful machine. Maybe he’s just playing nice? Maybe he’s genuine?
Actions tell more than intentions, and we have all season long to put Irving under the microscope yet again next year in Brooklyn.