Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving’s temper has been a continuous topic of discussion throughout his tenure in the NBA, and on Thursday ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith alleged that things have taken a turn for the worse at the Barclays Center.
“I will tell you this, I am not hearing good things about Kyrie in Brooklyn. You’re hearing about his mood; people are putting things out there. I’m telling you there’s stuff circulating out there about him from an attitude perspective.”
It seems like Smith might be insinuating something without wanting revealing too much, but this isn’t the first time the 27-year-old has made headlines over his less-than-welcoming attitude.
Irving: “It’s Okay to Be Human”
On October 28, ESPN’s Jackie MacMullan released an in-depth piece about the Nets, and there was a fragment in her article where sources affiliated with the team spoke candidly about Irving’s sporadic mood swings and this tendencies to “shut down.”
“When Irving lapses into these funks, he often shuts down, unwilling to communicate with the coaching staff, front office and, sometimes, even his teammates. Nets team sources say one such episode occurred during Brooklyn’s trip to China, leaving everyone scratching their heads as to what precipitated it.”
Irving quickly fired back against those accusations, and attributed his controversial behavior to human nature.
“You can continue to ask other people around me about what they think about me and continue to write about mood swings. You know, human beings have mood swings. Like, you go home and you’re not happy with things, or you’re mad at something, or you’re happy. That’s a mood swing. It’s OK to be human. I don’t have to be perfect for anyone here, nor do I have to be perfect for the public. I’m not here to dispel any perception. I’m just here to be myself.”
I look at Kyrie as somebody who is an artist. You have to leave him alone. You know what he’ll bring to the table every night because he cares so much about the game. Now, it might not be how other people want him to care about it. He has his way of doing things. I respect who he is and what he does. He has all the intangibles you want in a teammate and a great player. So, how he gets to the point to be ready for 7:30 every night, I’m supporting him 100 percent.”
Irving’s Return to TD Garden
The rumors may be swirling, but that hasn’t impacted Irving’s performance on the court. The six-time All Star is posting career-high numbers in several categories with 28.5 points, 5.4 rebounds and 7.2 assists per game.
The Nets are scheduled to play the Boston Celtics on Wednesday and Irving will make his triumphant return to TD Garden. The former Duke Blue Devil spent one controversial season there before deciding not to exercise his player option to stay. The Celtics finished the 2018 season 49-33 and were eliminated in the second round of the playoffs.
Despite the rocky exit, Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge said he wouldn’t be opposed to airing a tribute video in Irving’s honor, but strongly encouraged fans attending the game not to boo him.
“He gets blamed for a lot of the sour of last year, and I just think it’s much, much bigger than that. So, I don’t have any grudges against Kyrie,” Ainge asserted. “I’m grateful that he gave us a chance and it didn’t work out. It wasn’t his fault things didn’t work out. It was a lot of people’s fault, including my own.”