Marcus Morris has nothing but love for Kyrie Irving. The veterans played the last two seasons together with the Boston Celtics, but are now on opposite sides preparing to square off against one another Friday night when the Brooklyn Nets host the New York Knicks.
Earlier this week, Morris opened up about their prior relationship and responded to Kyrie’s assertion that he failed the team as a leader in Boston.
“The word fail, I wouldn’t say,” Morris said. “I just think, I don’t want to say fail, I just think mentally he had some other stuff going on and it was hard for him to separate that from the workplace.”
The “other stuff” Morris is referring to is the death of Kyrie’s grandfather, which took place right as the 2018-19 season was getting underway last October.
“As a leader, outside stuff can affect our team. And I think that did. Not like outside distractions but like family stuff he had going on,” Morris added.
Kyrie took ownership of the shortcomings, admitting basketball was the last thing on his mind last season.
“A lot of basketball and the joy I had for it was sucked away from me, and it was a facial expression that I carried around with me throughout the year,” Kyrie said last month at Nets Media Day.
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Morris Defends Kyrie
Since moving on to their new teams in the Big Apple, both players have been very open about what went wrong with Boston. Morris still shares a strong bond with his former teammate and believes Irving shouldered too much of the blame for the team’s postseason collapse in the Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Milwaukee Bucks.
“I love Ky,” Morris added. “I had a great relationship with Ky. Me and him were really good friends in there, we talked about a lot, what was going on. We never had no problems.”
Despite being separated by only a few miles, Morris and Irving are now worlds apart in terms of their basketball situations, with Marcus now focusing on a more team-first approach with the rebuilding Knicks as opposed to Kyrie’s new leadership role in Brooklyn.
“The teams are different. We don’t have that one guy where it’s like, okay, he’s first,” Morris told the NY Daily News. “It’s a team thing. No knock on Ky, but obviously he’s a superstar, he’s first. Sometimes his emotions were put in front of the team.”
The former Celtic teammates will play against each other on Friday night for the first time since March 14, 2017, when Irving was playing for the Cleveland Cavaliers and Morris was a member of the Detroit Pistons.
Kyrie Establishes New Leadership Role in Brooklyn
It was clear on opening night who the new Nets’ floor general was. Kyrie made NBA history dropping 50 points and committing zero turnovers in the season-opening loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Kyrie also became the first player to post a stat line of at least 50 points, eight rebounds, seven assists, and zero turnovers since turnovers were first recorded as a stat during the 1977-78 season, according to NBA Stats.
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