Kyrie Irving’s second season in Boston was nothing less than an unmitigated disaster. He played well throughout the regular season but constantly feuded with the media and called out his teammates openly on several occasions. It all culminated in a terrible Eastern Conference Semifinals, during which Irving shot a glorious 25-83 from the field over the Celtics’ four losses that resulted in the end of their season.
Before the talk turns to where Irving may take his talents next season, some reflection on this past season is in order. Grant Hill agrees with this line of thinking, and called out Irving for being ‘indifferent’ and ‘disengaged’ this past season in Boston .
Like or hate Irving, it’s hard to disagree with Hill’s diagnosis. Irving’s checked-out mentality in press conferences was understandable, to an extent; even after promising he’d return to Boston, he couldn’t get through a single media interview without getting asked about his impending free agency. That can grind on a person. But as he shot both himself and the Celtics out of the series against the Bucks, that same checked-out mentality seemed to be ever-present.
He can’t do that in Boston, sure, but it’s hard to imagine these circumstances sitting well with any fanbase. He’s been making big promises about the playoffs, and his performance specifically, for over a month now. Everyone has a tough series of games, but to see Irving talk up his game as the Celtics seemed to collapse, then to watch him simply not care as he failed to deliver on that talk, was disappointing and frustrating for Celtics fans.
Irving is talented, and when he’s making his shots, he’s as hard to stop as anybody. But it’s been made clear that whatever team lands him this coming summer is acquiring far more than a high-level basketball talent. He’s easily flustered when it comes to the media, and his attempt at strong-handed leadership led to a complete and season-long meltdown in Boston’s locker room. He’s good, but the past nine months have not been positive for the brand of Kyrie Irving. The next two will determine just how damaged the brand has become.