Kyrie Irving is embarking on a new journey with the Brooklyn Nets, so to speak. His signing in free agency is in many ways a chance at a fresh start after a tumultuous two seasons in Boston, where he forced a trade to the Celtics in part to try winning a championship of his own without LeBron James.
Injuries and a number of interpersonal issues got in the way of that in Boston, but Irving remains one of the most dynamic players in the NBA and a pairing of himself and Kevin Durant (when healthy) will certainly be fascinating to watch in Brooklyn. And Irving himself is now reflecting on those failures and what went wrong with the Celtics.
Speaking with reporters on Friday, Irving explained how he “failed” as a teammate in Boston and what makes things different for him this season.
“A lot of the battles I thought I could battle through in the [Boston] team environment, I just wasn’t ready for,” Irving said. “And I failed those guys, in the sense that I didn’t give them everything I could have during that season. … In terms of me being a leader in that environment and bringing everyone together, I failed.”
Irving said he’s bringing a “fresh mindset” to Brooklyn and also spoke about how the death of his grandfather impacted his mood and the way he carried himself in Boston, which he says has changed in the months since he left the team and signed with Brooklyn.
“Basketball and the joy I had from it was sucked away from me,” Irving said. “There was a facial expression that I carried around with me throughout the year. Didn’t allow anyone to get close to me in that instance, and it really bothered me. I didn’t take the necessary steps to get counseling or get therapy to deal with somebody that close to me dying. I’ve never dealt with anything like that.”
It’s interesting to hear Irving reflect on his time in Boston and admit that, not only did things not go the way he wanted, but that he carries some of the blame for that. Oftentimes in his comments about the team and their struggles he spoke of frustrations with others and his inability to become a proper leader for the team, but it often came off as a problem of others not getting the message. The problem, as all problems are, was much more complicated than that. And as he takes on a new challenge in Brooklyn, it seems he’s certainly learned from his two years in Boston.