Nets PG Kyrie Irving getting slandered for the Celtics’ success is laughable.
We’ve honestly lost count as to how many examples there are that prove that the media goes out of its way to create false narratives that ultimately portray Nets star Kyrie Irving in a poor light. At the same time, these pundits — and there’s more than a handful of them — usually fail to recognize his individual accolades, both on and off the court.
This has unfortunately become a topic of conversation again in light of the Boston Celtics advancing to the Eastern Conference Finals. After all, the achievement came the season after Irving left in free agency after previously stating his eagerness to re-sign with the 17-time champions.
There’s no denying that Irving’s stint in Boston was something to forget, but to put the majority of the blame on him for the team’s premature playoff exit in 2019 is beyond ridiculous.
So, a team that finished 16 games above .500 (49-33) and as the fourth-seed in a conference that featured the NBA’s two best teams (based on record) in Milwaukee and Toronto was “unbearable to watch” because of a player who averaged close to 24 points and set a career-high with 6.9 assists per game? Got it.
And remember when Boston took Game 1 from Milwaukee last season? Remember the takes then? Do you? Narratives flip quickly, folks.
What’s wrong with admitting that Irving just wasn’t a good fit in Boston? The Celtics already had a trio of proven scorers in Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and Gordon Hayward. Adding a point guard who prefers creating his own shot before setting up his teammates was always going to be a questionable fit in head coach Brad Stevens’ scheme, especially as Tatum and Brown developed.
And what about the glaring improvements from those two? The former is a borderline superstar after posting 23.4 points, 7.0 rebounds and 3.0 assists on 45% shooting, including on 40.3% on threes. He’s carried that stellar production into the playoffs, where many analysts questioned if he could deliver, showing drastic improvements in every major statistical category.
The latter, meanwhile, has vastly outperformed Kemba Walker (Irving’s like-for-like replacement) in the playoffs by averaging 21 points and 7.6 rebounds in 38.7 minutes per game. Conveniently enough, the media has shied away from shedding light on Walker’s numerous disappearing acts this postseason. Against Toronto in the Eastern Conference Semis, he logged three games in which he scored less than 20 points on a combined 27.6% shooting.
If that was Kyrie, we wouldn’t hear the end of it. Again, we’re not saying the six-time All-Star should be completely absolved of blame in terms of how the Celtics’ campaign ended last year, but to criticize him for the success they’ve enjoyed this time around is downright delusional.