Boston Celtics take the Orlando Magic
The Boston Celtics did not have the turnout in Orlando that guard, Kyrie Irving would have hoped for. After a discouraging match on Saturday, January 12th, against the Orlando Magic, Kyrie Irving left Florida struggling with how to approach and encourage his younger teammates. He had publicly criticized some of the younger players on the team and began to feel the heat of having a leadership role.
Celtics catch blame from Kyrie Irving
Keith Smith of RealGM tweeted a public statement from Kyrie Irving after the Celtics’ loss in Orlando.
"The young guys don't know what it takes to be a championship level team. What it takes every day. And if they think it is hard now, what do they think it will be like when we're trying to get to the Finals?"
Celtics’ Jaylen Brown responded to this in an interview. He stated that it was not simply one man's fault and that the entire team should be held accountable to turning things around. He emphasized the importance of teamwork in his response.
Kyrie Irving's eyes set to a championship
As Kyrie Irving struggles with his role now as a team captain, he reaches out to former teammate LeBron James for some leadership advice. This was more than a simple friend-to-friend phone call, however. This was apologetic call and reconciliation at the same time.
As teammates, James and Irving didn't always see eye to eye. Kyrie Irving publicly admitted his misjudgment of James back when he played under James' leadership in Cleveland. Now, having a leadership role himself, Irving claims to have been a young, 22-year old kid that wanted more than what he was ready for. With his eyes now set towards a championship, Kyrie Irving tucked away his pride and reached out to James to apologize for his past behavior and to ask for advice on getting the most out of his team.
Kyrie Irving spoke to reporters about his position now and his decision to seek advice from Lebron James.
He stated, "Like I said, only few are meant for it or chosen for it and I feel like the best person to call was him because he’s been in this situation. He’s been there with me, where I’ve been the young guy, being a 22-year-old kid that wanted everything, wanted everything right now. Coming off an All-Star year starting and this heck of a presence coming back and now I gotta adjust my game to this guy. You take it personal but, at the end of the day, he wants what’s best. And he has a legacy he wants to leave, and he has a window he wants to capture. So, I think what that brought me back to was like, alright, how do I get the best out of this group to the success they had last year and then helping them realize what it takes to win a championship.”
Kyrie Irving takes responsibility as Boston Celtics leader
Kyrie Irving later explained to NBC Sports Boston that he accepts the responsibility of needing to be a better leader of the team and preparing the guys on his team to be more communicative.
In an interview with NBC Sports, he stated, "Now I’m in this position, I asked for this and I want this. I want the responsibility. And I take it on full force. But it’s also good to reach out for help and really take responsibility for what you’ve done in your career. It takes a real man to go back, call somebody and be like, ‘Hey, man, I was young. I made some mistakes, I wasn’t seeing the big picture like you were. I didn’t have the end of the season in mind. I just wanted to get my stats and make All-Star games,’ which in his career means like this much at that point. So it was just good. And it gave me peace of mind to go about what I’ve gotta go do. Obviously, I’m going to be competing against him the best and everybody else in the league. But it was good.”
Despite the frustrations and criticisms from Kyrie Irving, it's safe to assume that he's on the right track with his team. His competitive mindset and passion for the game are certainly there. Judging by his recent interactions with Lebron James, it appears that a new level of maturity is breaching in Kyrie Irving. It will be interesting to watch how the team develops from here on out.