Ever since Kyrie Irving hit one of the greatest shots in NBA history, everything he has touched has turned to ash. A fall from grace that hasn’t been seen before in NBA history. What was once a potential all-time great has now become a reality show.
Let’s run through the timeline.
In 2017, Irving and LeBron James were mentally and physically assaulted by a loaded Warriors team to the tune of a gentleman’s sweep. During those playoffs, we learned that Irving didn’t speak to teammates for consecutive days in between games, and the friction between him and LeBron began to reach its tipping point.
The mercurial superstar decided it was time to become a “focal point” of a franchise, and asked Owner Dan Gilbert to be traded somewhere that he would be the man. Irving got his wish, as Danny Ainge and crew pulled the trigger on the blockbuster deal that brought Irving to Boston.
Irving actually started off great in Boston. Following Gordon Hayward’s devastating ankle injury, Irving led the Celtics to a 15-2 start, and in prime position to make a run at the NBA Finals before a knee injection abruptly ended his season. That knee injury would prove to be the kiss of death, as everything that happened after would be an abject disaster in Boston.
It started with Irving electing to undergo nose surgery for his horrendous Uncle Drew movie prior to Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals, choosing not to be with his teammates in the most pivotal game of the season. It was at that moment when Celtics fans began to question his true commitment to the franchise as a superstar they could build around.
Most Celtics fans, including myself, chose to ignore the warning signs prior to the 2018-19 season. The team was absolutely stacked, Irving, Brown Hayward, Tatum, and Horford, who could stop them?
It turns out Irving could stop them. And he did.
Prior to the beginning of the season, Irving verbally committed to the Celtics long-term and even told fans during a season-ticket holder event that he would be re-signing after the season. He even shot a Nike commercial where he proclaimed that he wanted his number retired in the rafters at the Garden. Everything was going swimmingly.
Until the season actually started.
A season from hell insinuated. After a 10-10 start, Irving began to question the team’s makeup both publicly and privately. He even told reporters that he thought the team needed a “14 or 15-year veteran” to “show the team what it takes to win a championship”, as Al Horford, a 12-year vet stood no less than 10 feet from him.
From visibly arguing with Gordon Hayward after a loss in Orlando, to the famous “Ask me July 1st” answer when asked if he would still be re-upping in Boston after the season, Irving poisoned a season with championship aspirations.
The worst moment of that dreadful season was undoubtedly the All-Star Weekend. Irving had missed the two games prior to the break with an injury, yet insisted on playing the game to frolic with his superstar buddies. Throughout the weekend, Irving was seen scurrying around with his pal Kevin Durant like two schoolgirls in the playground.
It was absolutely disgusting and disrespectful to Celtics fans. He was openly recruiting Durant to Brooklyn, and when questioned about it he snapped at reporters and questioned their motives and morals.
The fraudulent point guard went on to have a tremendously porous postseason in which after going a combined 19-62 shooting in the second round in Milwaukee, he responded: “Who cares?”. It was a fitting ending to a detestable season.
Irving then went on to break his promise the Celtics and their fans by leaving Boston in the dust and headed to Brooklyn with his fellow sensitive superstar Kevin Durant. He gave numerous garbage answers when asked his motives for leaving and stated how happy he was to “go home” to Brooklyn.
Fun fact. He’s from New Jersey.
Irving stated how happy he was to play for Kenny Atkinson, a man he thought he could “connect with” on both a personal and basketball level.
That was just a blatant lie.
Saturday morning, the Nets announced that they have parted ways with Atkinson, a tremendous coach who had begun to build a culture in Brooklyn similar to how Brad Stevens has built Boston. A team that was able to make the playoffs last year with D’Angelo Russell, and was poised to do the same this year even without Russell, (who they dealt for Durant), Irving (debatable shoulder injury), and Durant (real achilles injury).
Reports surfaced that Irving “soured” on Atkinson early in his tenure with Brooklyn and that Atkinson had no interest in coaching both Durant and Irving. Kyrie will now have seven coaches in nine years, and two of them were playing with Brad Stevens.
Let that sink in.
I don’t blame Atkinson at all. Coaching those two whiny six-year-olds will be like coaching an all-girls kindergarten soccer ball team. Someone will hire Atkinson in fifteen minutes, the guy is an excellent coach and will do wonders for a middling franchise in need of stability.
Whoever the Nets bring in next year, will need to be more of a playgroup supervisor than a basketball coach. Managing the egos and mental fragility of those two will be a task akin to climbing Mount Everest. Irving has already made it known that he “prefers Tyronn Lue” to supervise his playdates with Durant next year, and I would imagine he’ll get his wish based on the actions of the Nets front office thus far.
The Nets are currently the seventh seed in the East, and they will likely take on either the Raptors or the Celtics. Unfortunately for the Net’s current players, despite their unprecedented success, their days are numbered. Irving, like his former mentor LeBron James, will in all probability have them all traded so that he can play with his pals instead next season.
Because winning was never a priority for the self-dubbed “basketball genius”.
And it never will be.
*All stats via Basketball Reference