The Boston Celtics have been something of a pleasant surprise to start the 2018-19 NBA season. While the team has plenty of talent, there was a belief that they might have needed a little bit to gel due to some of the roster turnover they experienced during the summer. Instead, Boston currently sits in third place in the Eastern Conference at 13-5 and are two games back of the conference leading Milwaukee Bucks.
Despite their success on the court, the team has still garnered a lot of attention for last season, namely the fact that Kyrie Irving committed to signing an extension in Beantown prior to the season tipping off. Irving, of course, left the Celtics during the offseason to team up with Kevin Durant on the Brooklyn Nets following a tumultuous 2018-19 campaign.
Human nature means people tend to gravitate toward things they don’t fully understand, which is why there’s been so much intrigue over Irving leaving. But that has come at the expense of this year’s bunch, and one Celtics player would perfer if the focus was on the current group of guys. Following Friday’s 112-107 loss to the Nets in Brooklyn — Irving missed the game with a shoulder injury — Boston guard Marcus Smart expressed frustration with how much everyone is asked about his former teammate.
“That’s my brother, regardless of what he did,” Smart said after the game. “He worked hard, and quite frankly, I’m really, honestly tired of hearing about Kyrie. Kyrie’s no longer with the Boston Celtics, and it’s a slap across everybody on this team that’s here now to keep hearing Kyrie’s name because every last one of these guys have put in the work and continue to put in the work. We’re here, we’re still competing, but yet everybody, including the Boston fans, want to talk about Kyrie. Let’s talk about the Boston Celtics.”
These questions won’t go away, but as the season goes on, perhaps they’ll become less and less frequent. Irving’s stint in Boston will interest basketball fans for a long, long time, and in the meantime, all the team can really do is hope that winning games will silence some of that noise that comes from people outside of their locker room.