Kyrie Irving is known for his exceptional ball handling skills, artistry and creativeness of his shots and the game 7 shot against the Golden State Warriors that sealed the win for the Cleveland Cavaliers and brought the Cavaliers their first championship title.
While in Cleveland, he was known as an assassin. He was a scoring machine and most believe the biggest reason that LeBron left Miami return “home” to Cleveland. LeBron’s gamble was rewarded when his return to Cleveland culminated in a 2016 championship. The championship would not have been possible had it not been for Kyrie’s amazing 3-point shot in game 7 of the finals over Steph Curry’s extended hand to seal the championship for Cleveland. No one can argue that this was Kyrie’s finest moment of his NBA career. Since that amazing shot, it’s been all downhill for Kyrie.
When Kyrie requested a trade from Cleveland, most fans were understanding, with the exception of many of the LeBron James fans who saw it as a sign of disrespect. Nonetheless, the general consensus was that Kyrie was taking his future into his own hands and spreading his wings.
Boston Celtics, Here I Come
When Kyrie landed in Boston, it seemed like a match made in NBA heaven, and for a time it was. Then Kyrie got injured and the Celtics that were counted out ended up going to the Eastern Conference Finals only to lose in game 7 to the LeBron-led Cleveland Cavaliers.
Speculation of Boston’s future were sky high after that season. Fans and analysts alike felt that when Kyrie and Gordon Hayward returned, the Celtics could make the finals and possibly win it all. When Kyrie returned the following season, the chemistry that had been built up from the previous playoff run seemed to go out the window. Based on rumors, it seemed that Kyrie wanted to ignore the steps that the young core had taken and wanted to dominate the ball and have every play run through him. Kyrie seemed unable to hold his tongue and would throw his teammates under the bus at every opportunity.
It’s one thing to provide constructive criticism to your teammates in private when they do something wrong. And it’s a whole other matter calling out every flaw of your teammates in public. Kyrie made it a habit to constantly call out his teammates in public. It’s not difficult to see how this could rub his teammates the wrong way.
“Don’t Know What It Takes To Be A Championship Level Team”
Kyrie was on record saying that Boston’s young players “Don’t Know What It Takes To Be A Championship Level Team”. This comment came the season after the young Celtics team missing both Irving and Gordon Hayward due to injury, went to the Eastern Conference Finals. In that run, the Celtics beat the Milwaukee Bucks and the Philadelphia 76ers. Their inexperience showed in the ECF against the LeBron-led Cavaliers and they choked away their lead and lost at home in game 7.
During the Celtics playoff run while Kyrie was injured, there were rumors that Kyrie was unhappy that his teammates were playing so well without him.
When Kyrie returned in the 2018-2019 season, it was reported that he wanted everyone to go back to their original roles before his injury and this didn’t sit well with a young core that had played their hearts out and seemingly taken a step forward in their development.
There was a lot of grumbling from the Celtic’s locker room and Kyrie was always somehow involved. A great leader would have applauded the growth of the young players and then figured out a way to infuse himself in the lineup without disrupting the growth that his teammates had made in the previous postseason. Unfortunately for Boston, Kyrie always wants to be the focal point of all attention.
Can’t Wait For The Playoffs
After one of their losses during the regular season, Irving said, “I don’t think anybody in the Eastern Conference can really compete with us at a high level when we’re playing the way we’re supposed to be playing.” When asked about the playoffs, he often responded “Can’t wait”.
Unfortunately for the Celtics and Celtics’ fans, when the playoffs arrived, Kyrie forgot to show up. The Celtics swept the Indiana Pacers, whose best player Victor Oladipo was out due to injury. In the second round Boston had to face the Milwaukee Bucks. Boston beat Milwaukee in the first game, but lost the next four games and got knocked out of the playoffs.
Making Celtics Playoff History
In game 1 against the Bucks, Kyrie went 12-for-21 shooting for 26 points and Celtics won that game. It was all downhill from there. Kyrie shot 30 percent in the next 4 games. Kyrie became the first player in Celtic’s history to take at least 15 shots and shoot less than 40 percent in 4 straight playoff games since Sam Jones in 1966, as per ESPN Stats & Info.
In game 4 to the Milwaukee Bucks series, Bucks won and Kyrie was 7-of-22. Kyrie left the floor early. During the press conference after the game Kyrie said that he had left the floor because “The game was over”. When asked about his performance, Kyrie replied, “For me, the 22 shots, I should have shot 30. Really, I’m that great of a shooter.” These are not signs of a good leader or a team player.
Welcome To Brooklyn
Kyrie signed with the Brooklyn Nets and there were rumors about how happy the Boston Celtic players were that Kyrie left. There were rumors that some of his Celtics teammates said that they would gladly help him pack.
Even in preseason, there were rumors about Kyrie not wanting to remove his hat for a group photo with his teammates while in China. When he was asked if he could remove his hat for the photo, Kyrie told the Nets organization to photoshop the hat out. There have also been reports of mood swings.
“It’s Pretty Glaring We Need One More Piece Or Two More Pieces”
One would think that after the criticism that he endured in Boston that Kyrie would have learned a bit more tact when speaking to the media. However, based on his recent diarrhea of the mouth, team-killer Kyrie is back at it. This time his target is his Brooklyn Nets teammates.
Kyrie sat out 26 games due to a shoulder injury. After only 3 games in from his return, the Nets lose a game to the Philadelphia 76ers. In the game, Kyrie shot 6-for-21 and had a (+/-. In a postgame interview a reporter asks Kyrie how much work his team needed to do in order to compete while awaiting Kevin Durant’s return. Kyrie responded:
“I mean, it’s transparent. It’s out there. It’s glaring, in terms of the pieces that we need in order to be at that next level. I’m going to continue to reiterate it. We’re going to do the best with the guys that we have in our locker room now, and we’ll worry about all the other stuff, in terms of moving pieces and everything else, as an organization down the line in the summer. It’s just something that we signed up for. We knew what we were coming into at the beginning of the season. Guys were going down left and right. GT is out, DJ just got hurt tonight, Wilson is coming back. We’ve got complimentary young guys, as well, that have done a great job the last three years. Collectively, I feel like we have great pieces, but it’s pretty glaring we need one more piece or two more pieces that will compliment myself, KD, DJ, GT, Spence, Caris, and we’ll see how that evolves.”
How can a leader who had a poor shooting night himself, so easily throw his teammates under the bus while taking zero responsibility on his own failings? This further proves that Kyrie is a locker room cancer.
What’s The Solution?
While Kyrie Irving is an offensively gifted basketball player, it’s glaringly obvious that he is a terrible teammate. There is no questions that Kyrie can become toxic to any team’s locker room at any given moment. As terrible of a teammate as Kyrie is, when his team is winning, he tends to be happy and says great things about his teammates. When Kyrie scores a lot of points in a game, he also seems to be satisfied. It is when he plays poorly or his team is losing that he begins to throw all of his teammates under the bus.
The best solution is for the Nets organization to try to keep Kyrie happy for the rest of the season by letting him dominate the ball as much as he wants. Brooklyn should allow Kyrie to dribble as much as he wants, shoot as much as he wants and entertain the paying fans. We all know that the Brooklyn Nets aren’t going to make any noise in the league until KD returns to the lineup.
The moment KD returns to the court, the Nets will become his team. Because Kyrie and KD are such good friends, there shouldn’t be any issues with them playing together. With the added defensive and offensive firepower from KD, the Brooklyn Nets will become a top 2 team in the East if not the outright best team. The KD and Kyrie duo will make Brooklyn must see TV. Brooklyn will begin to win games and as the saying goes, “Winning cures all ills”.