What exactly did that look like?
One example came after the Celtics beat the Bucks by 22 points in Game 1 of their second-round series last season.
While Celtics teammates worked out on the floor the next day, sources say Irving climbed into the stands and sat by himself. The practice was voluntary, but the way he disengaged himself — while his teammates put in work — struck observers.
“He was just disconnected,” said one witness.
Another example? King:
One assistant coach said he once rode about 30 or 40 flights on an elevator with Irving — and the guard did not say a single word.
In isolation, these incidents seem pretty minor. With his injury history and heavy workload, Irving might have been better off resting during a voluntary practice. Elevator chit-chat can be awkward, and plenty of people prefer to avoid it.
But these clearly fit a larger pattern of Irving being difficult to get along with. There’s enough smoke that I’m not willing to give him the benefit of the doubt there was no fire.
That’s why I couldn’t get on board with Irving labeling himself a basketball genius, at least beyond a very narrow definition. He’s incredible on the court, an elite ball-handler and shot-maker. But the way he carries himself wears on his team, and that hurts its ability to win. Boston’s chemistry was way off last season, and Irving was a key factor (though, to be fair, only one of multiple).
Maybe Irving can justify not practicing or not talking in an elevator. He also ought to realize how that affects people around him.