The narrative has been out there for a while. Last fall Kyrie Irving was standing in front of a crowd of Celtics season ticket holders saying he wanted to re-sign in Boston. Then within a few months things had turned — the Celtics were struggling on the court as players didn’t adjust to Irving dominating the ball, there were chemistry issues in the locker room (only some of which have come to public light), and the Celtics’ season became a disappointing slog. By the end of the season Celtics fans were ready to run Irving out of town, and he bolted to Brooklyn with Kevin Durant.
However, there is always context to a story like that.
Irving provided some of that at Brooklyn media day Friday, saying that his grandfather passed away around the start of last season and that took him mentally out of the game, taking him to a darker place, and with that he failed the Celtics players. It ultimately led to him wanting out of Boston.
Irving would be far from the first player to have his personal life bleed into his game on the court and into the locker room. Anyone who has been through the death of a close family member knows it can throw you for a loop.
It also doesn’t change anything about the Celtics season, how it ended, or where all this left Boston in its quest to build a contender. The Celtics are still cleaning up the mess of last season as they head into this one, and Irving created a lot of it.
This just provides a little context. We tend to think of players as two dimensional, what we see in highlights and how they help our fantasy teams, but they are people dealing with the same issues you and I are with family and friends. They just do it in a fishbowl. As fans, we need to keep that in mind, it doesn’t always mean forgiveness, but at least an understanding.