Over the course of the last 18 years (half my life) I have been a spoiled sports fan. I root for Boston teams and have a fandom trophy case that’s bigger than yours. I am not entirely sure if my rooting intensity has waned with age or with winning. I love sports and watch a lot of them on TV and consume them online. However, loses don’t ruin my days (or weeks) and victories (and championships) don’t leave me euphoric. The Red Sox World Series last year was exciting, but didn’t move the needle for me like past wins did (and the 22 year old inside of me would hate me for it). Likewise, the Bruins game seven loss last year was not earth shattering. Both playoff rides were fun and it’s always great to have local water cooler talk.
While that above paragraph is true, there is one team in my life that does leave me frustrated enough to contemplate lodging my remote into my TV, nervous enough to pace my living room, and joyful enough to wake up my neighbors with a scream.
The Boston Celtics are that team.
(Full disclosure, I am a season ticket holder.)
On Friday, a player that I defended far more than I care to admit had his first press conference for the Brooklyn Nets. Kyrie Irving was a Celtic for two seasons and he was a pleasure to watch but a pain to listen to. I gave him second, third, and fourth chances. Some of my friends thought I was crazy and wrote off Kyrie as a team killer and crazy person.
I was hopeful that Kyrie was going to mature. He was only 26. He was too talented for us quit on. He’ll figure it all out by the playoffs. He can turn it on when it matters. Don’t you remember what he did in 2016?
Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.
Often (maybe even too often) people love to compare the sports fan experience to dating. In this case, Kyrie was the crazy girl that many of us have dated. She might be hot. She might be a good time. But she also picks fights and hates all your friends. You find yourself defending her to your friends when they voice their concerns. She sucks the air out of the room in social situations and has a propensity for saying some borderline weird stuff. She definitely has plenty of cringe worthy posts on all social media platforms.
Sometimes that girl returns to your life again and again and the allure is so strong that you might find yourself texting her late at night. You run into her at a bar and you just can’t say no. You keep hoping maybe, just maybe, she will change and get along with your friends. Maybe you can get her to log off social media, just for a little bit.
I realized watching Kyrie’s Brooklyn Nets press conference on Friday that I would never be in danger of him luring me back in. It’s like when the girl shows up at the bar with a new boyfriend and he just looks as unhappy as you were. She starts talking nonsense and you realize you don’t have to listen to it ever again. She’s not your problem anymore and you can move on and be happy. No. More. Drama.
Here is Kyrie’s full interview from Friday. I have earmarked some moments that I think are worth watching and offer some of my own commentary…
2:16 - “NBA has been full of ups and downs of mental capacity things that' I’ve dealt with, injuries, you know, and just dealing with with this whole hoopla thing as well it’s just getting used to this and really igniting different things in an industry and a business such as the NBA. It’s been incredible, so I’m glad - I’m grateful to see it unfold today, you know, and be here, and just really talk about how gracious I am to be here.”
What in God’s name is her talking about here? Is this his “company man” answer. “Igniting different things in an industry” are the words of a firework salesman.
Also, can we appreciate the fact that he misused the word gracious? It’s grateful! Gracious, in the context of Kyrie Irving, makes a lot more sense, if you ask me. Yes, Kyrie, how gracious of you to be here.
3:30 - Kyrie talks around player tampering. He made a new friend at All Star weekend who happened to play for the Nets!
I hope Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown are playing this Spencer Dinwiddie stuff on a loop. What a jab at two former teammates who, potentially, could have better numbers than Dinwiddie this season.
3:42 - Kyrie must be watching as many crime dramas as I am. He gives a very specific time (4:16am…) for when he, Kevin Durant, and DeAndre Jordan started talking about free agency and joining the Nets.
I love that DeAndre Jordan is getting lumped into the Brooklyn Nets hype machine. I hope he plays so many minutes and arrests Jared Allen’s development. Please let it be so because Jared Allen is awesome. He’s everything I want Robert Williams to be for the Celtics.
4:02 - “They made us feel like All Stars, they made us feel like we were supposed to be treated fairly from the media component, from our teammates, from the first class service they give here, concierge (what??), and most importantly for me was the family atmosphere here. They reached out to my family as soon as I committed. And it felt like they were very inclusive with everything that they had going on here. And it was just like a step away being away from home. And they made me feel as comfortable as I could as well as reaching out to KD and DJ and as well as other guys on the team to make sure they know whats going on.”
I want to know what “first class service” looks like in the NBA compared to what Kyrie was getting in Boston and Cleveland. Also, super nice of the Nets to tell all the other players what’s going on…because the pain train is coming for all of you. This next quote really gives us a glimpse into Kyrie’s mind…
“This is for the future. We’re here to build. We’re not saying we’re a championship team right now. We’re not gonna say this is what it’s gonna be going forward. We’re just here to observe one another, care for one another, and then be here to enjoy playing basketball. But first and foremost is our family and I feel like sometime that can get confused in this league about who we are as human beings. So I’m always gonna be an advocate for that. And they are advocates that we’re humans first and then we’re basketball players.
I am so glad we got that straightened out. Humans, first. Basketball players, second. I think that’s going to be on the Space Jam 2 movie poster.
Kyrie is also working extremely hard at limiting expectations while his more talented, taller, and more accomplished buddy gets healthy. The New York media is going to be laser focused on this team considering how bad the New York Knicks are. He’s going to be, again, in the limelight and answering for any bad moments the team has. He’ll be quick to throw the young ‘uns under the bus.
6:30 - This is where it becomes clear that Kyrie is never going to be really happy. He’s part of the NBA machine. He continues to speak about the business and the “fairness” in how the “NBA product” works. So coming home (Brooklyn is not his home. Just so we’re clear) is going to fix everything (whispers… it isn’t…).
7:40 - “For me, I just wanted to come in with that mentality like, ‘hey, I’m just going to be honest about who I am and what I’m doing going forward and my goals for myself’ and then apply that into the environment here that we have in Brooklyn.”
This is a troublesome quote, isn’t it? Those two sentiments don’t completely match. Kyrie wants to be himself, have his own goals, but then mold them into the Brooklyn environment. What happens when those two things don’t align with each oth-
ohhhhhhhh, that’s right, he complains and starts blaming others for failures.
9:20 “He was out 31 days and we put him on a national stage in The Finals, to end up selling a product that came before the person, Kevin, and now I’m here to protect that. I’m going to be a protector of that all throughout the year.”
Kyrie blames the world for KD playing in the NBA Finals with an injury that ultimately led to his achilles tear. The funny part about that is that KD said that it was completely his call to play and no one else was to blame. The best part about this is KD said it six weeks ago. Super cool for Kyrie to speak up on his behalf, though.
10:30 - The Boston Globe sent Adam Himmelsbach to ask about why Kyrie promised to stay in Boston and what went into the decision to leave. Kyrie says he had no affiliation with Boston (yet, he made a Nike commercial talking about his connections to Boston). Kyrie doubles down on his “youth doesn’t win championships” argument:
“Some of the actual knowledge that needed to be had in terms of being a championship team takes more than just two years. It takes more than just an environment that you feel just comfortable in.”
Kyrie is correct here. It does take more than two years. Sadly, he seemed very unsatisfied with what was going on in Boston, and instead of working through it and sticking it out. He left. Even after announcing he’d stay.
12:55 - “I barely got a chance to talk to my grandfather before he passed, from playing basketball. So you tell me if you would want to go to work every single day knowing that you just lost somebody close to you doing a job every single day that everyone from the outside or anyone internally is protecting you for. Like, ‘hey, just keep being a basketball player.”
Kyrie just described the experience of nearly everyone on this entire planet at one time or another. We all deal with loss and death. We all have to keep moving forward. It sucks and it’s really hard.
However, it doesn’t seem fair for him to blame the NBA or the Celtics for his inability to go and see his grandfather. I have a hard time believing Brad Stevens would tell Kyrie he can’t go see his sick grandfather. In 2016, Stevens himself missed a game to visit a former player, Andrew Smith, who was in the hospital and ended up passing away.
15:05 - Kyrie again making sure his free agency timeline is clean… “Mid-June… Late June… 4:16 in the morning.”
16:03 - “Kyrie the NBA Scout” claims he knew Joe Harris was going to be special when Harris arrived in Cleveland as a rookie. He just wasn’t good enough to play on those championship teams… now they’re teammates! Yay! Kyrie goes on to say that the decision to play for the Nets with KD was “spur of the moment on that day.” Suuuurrrrreeeee….
18:00 - Kyrie the NBA (or ABA) historian…
18:37 - “I grew up playing in some of these parks. I popped up at a Brooklyn park the other day, not really realizing that I’m still not normal (you’ve got that right…). So when I go outside then I see all these kids leaving a bunch of courts. I’m like, ‘I just came here to shoot with my dad.’ It’s cause that’s where I grew up, outside, playing basketball, having that attitude to really prove people right, that I’m the next one meant to take over this league for the next few years.”
And with that I just have to say, good bye, Kyrie, and good luck to the Brooklyn fans.