Boston is currently up 1-0 in the Eastern Conference Finals, they’ve got some of the best young talent in the NBA, one of the best coaches in the league in Brad Stevens, and a surfeit of lottery picks in the next two drafts. But how long will that last? In the absence of Kyrie Irving, a massive issue could be brewing.
Irving forced his way out of Cleveland as he did not want to be Robin to LeBron James’ Batman. He wanted the keys right now and had no interest in winning without getting the majority of the credit.
In the midst of the Celtics unprecedented success, might Irving’s current team no longer be his when he’s back next season?
“It’s Brad Stevens’ team. When you come back, win– win or lose this series for Boston, this is now– Brad Stevens is a genius. He’s the face of the Celtics. And that doesn’t– you– some people might say, well, of course the coach is– no. It’s James Harden’s team. It’s Steph Curry’s team. OKC is Russell Westbrook’s team, was Durant’s teams. LeBron has his team.”
Going forward Boston will presumably be at the top of Eastern Conference pantheon; will Irving settle for not being the primary reason why again?
His coach has not only become the face of Celtics but the widespread love of the young coach has made him one of, if not the biggest storyline of the entire NBA postseason.
Irving does not seem to be Tim Duncan in just accepting that his coach will get most of the credit. And unless something unforeseen occurs, there will be no way to escape that narrative.
Since his season-ending injury, the Celtics ran through a 76ers team that many had thought was a nightmarish matchup for any team in the NBA. In the first game of the Eastern Conference Finals, the Celtics ramrodded the Cavaliers so bad LeBron James looked nothing but average.
In last year’s Eastern Conference Finals, the Celtics were not even competitive until the ball-dominant Isaiah Thomas went down.
Very few superstars of Kyrie Irving’s stature in the history of the NBA have been second-in-command to their coach, but that is increasingly looking like the case going forward in Boston. Irving didn’t like being a sidekick in Cleveland, why would he like it in Boston? He won’t.
Unless Irving has completely reinvented himself since last summer, this coach-player relationship could be a real issue sooner rather than later.