The REAL Problem With Kyrie Irving In The NBA (Ft. Nets, LeBron James, & Some Interviews)
Kyrie Irving recently made comments on his NBA teammates that suggested trading them from the Nets, but what is the real problem with Kyrie Irving? #NBA #Kyrie #Problem
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This isn’t Kyrie’s first time making comments about his team. This was an issue on Celtics and even on the Cavs. It was apparently an issue in the beginning of the season for the Nets.
To understand this problem, we have to go back to July 1, 2014. At this point in time Kyrie Irving has been in the league for 3 seasons, he’s been an All-Star for two years, and he just signed a 5 year max contract extension with the Cavs. This didn’t mean that Kyrie was fully on-board with signing the extension with the Cavs. So it wasn’t just about the money, the Cavs sold Kyrie a vision, a vision that would possibly haunt him forever. The front office told Kyrie that the Cavaliers would be his team, that he would be THE superstar and leader of the organization. The Cavs had just drafted Andrew Wiggins with the number 1 pick who had such high upside and expectations so it wasn’t going to be an immediate success story, but it was still going to be Kyrie’s team.
And then just 10 days later on July 11, 2014, LeBron made the decision to come home. And just like that, the vision that was sold to Kyrie shattered. With LeBron coming to the Cavs, there was no way that this would be Irving’s team. And Kyrie had no option, he had just signed for 5 years. It was bittersweet. So while Kyrie Irving and LeBron James would become an amazing duo and a Big three with Kevin Love, there was always something missing. Even when Kyrie scored 40 in Game 6 and hit the shot in Game 7, LeBron’s 41 in Game 6 and his block was more credited.
So after 3 years of being LeBron’s shadow, of learning from his leadership, and seeing how he used the media to manipulate an organization into doing what he wanted, Kyrie demanded a trade that didn’t come as a surprise. Kyrie was turning 25 and had won a championship, but some of the habits he picked up from Bron weren’t the best.
Keep in mind that LeBron is the king of passive-aggressive shots. Remember that fit-out tweet in 2015 that was a reference to Kevin Love. A lot of what LeBron says is calculated and he also isn’t afraid to put certain teammates under the bus or get new teammates like in 2018 with the Cavs . And the worst part of all that, was that Kyrie had seen that work. LeBron got his way. Kobe was also a guy who led through tough love and wasn’t afraid of calling out teammates behind closed doors. There were reports the Kyrie would go days without speaking to his teammates while on the Cavs.
And so once on the Celtics, Kyrie had his own team that was under his leadership, especially with Hayward going down with injury. He had his moments of calling out his teammates because that was the power he had. If you look at Kyrie off-the court though, all the players praised how much of a leader he was and how involved he was when he was out injured. Players like Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Marcus Smart took to heart the advice Kyrie gave. Smart even said that Kyrie wasn’t trying to disrupt what the Celtics had built which for a star like Irving says a lot.
Then the Celtics did amazing in the 2018 playoffs without Kyrie, nearly making the Finals behind their young core. Irving comes back which means a reduced role for everyone part of that run. That caused problems because now players associated their less playing time with Kyrie which led to falling outs and team meetings over and over again. But if you look at when the Nets played the Celtics, it was all love between Kyrie and the Celtics players.
But Smart said one very telling thing, that the Celtics could never truly understand Kyrie. And maybe that’s it. It’s not the Kyrie is a bad leader, a selfish player, it’s that he doesn’t know how to express what he wants in a way that others could understand.
So Kyrie has been chasing his own team, but hasn’t exactly figured out the right way to talk to inspire change without talking to the media. The Nets are different. Here he’s with friends in Kevin Durant and Deandre Jordan who he wanted to play with. This is the first team that he really got to pick who he wanted to be with and surrounded by. It might help Kyrie to straighten out all these communication issues as time passes. He needs to be able to talk to his teammates behind closed doors and address them the same way he addresses the media. It can be harder to look someone in the eye and say that we need to change pieces versus saying it to the media, which is why I think Jay Williams hit the nail right on the head.