Kyrie Irving is undoubtedly one of the league’s most gifted talents. Yet more times than not his on-court prowess tends to get overshadowed. Ranging from the flat-earth saga to stomping out the Lucky the Leprechaun logo, to everything in between, the perennial All-Star readily finds himself engulfed in controversy.
However, Jayson Tatum — who spent two seasons as Irving’s teammate from 2017-2018 — would like those who are critical of the one-time NBA champion to take a look in the mirror.
“Kyrie’s great. Obviously, he’s a hell of a player. Everybody can see that,” Tatum said on Kicks’ Beyond the Press podcast. “He’s misunderstood. I’m sure there’s some things that he’s probably done or said that he has apologized for.”
“Everybody has done things that they’re not proud of or said things they shouldn’t,” Tatum added. “The world we live in, everybody’s so quick to judge, which is unfair because we just live in a spotlight. I’m sure if all those people who point fingers and talk about all of us on TV had to live in a spotlight. And, everything they said or did was national news. They wouldn’t be so perfect either.”
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Irving’s Budding Beef With Celtics Fans
Irving has been a sparkplug of disdain for Celtics faithful ever since his exit from Beantown two seasons ago. He further fueled that hatred this season during the Nets-Celtics first-round playoff series. Not only did he send his former team packing in just five games, but he also struck a chord with the fanbase, from his unsolicited racism remarks regarding Bostonians to the aforementioned logo stomp incident that led to a fan tossing a water bottle at his head.
While Irving’s actions clearly left a large portion of Celtics fans fuming, Celtics players remained rather grounded in their reaction — something that apparently didn’t sit too well with some within the organization, per The Athletic’s Jared Weiss.
Despite the continuity in leadership, several team sources suggest the Celtics’ culture of competition is eroding — with more than one source pointing to the players’ perceived indifference toward Kyrie Irving stomping on the Celtics logo after the final home game of the season as a red flag they did not exhibit the same sense of pride in the organization that has been the Celtics’ calling card in years past.
Could Irving’s Antics End His Brooklyn Tenure?
Currently, it appears doubtful. However, Can’t Knock the Hustle author Matt Sullivan recently hinted on the Celtics Lab podcast that Irving’s escapades since joining the Nets have rubbed some within the organization the wrong way and could potentially lead to the team listening to trade calls for the 29-year-old star.
“I’ve heard that Nets ownership was quite upset with Kyrie’s ‘pause,’ especially that maskless party that turned his psuedo-paternity leave into more like a COVID suspension,” Sullivan said. “And in the last week I’ve heard rumblings — whispers, really, because cracking the Nets is kind of like breaking into the Kremlin, that Brooklyn GM Sean Marks would maybe, possibly, apparently be willing to at least listen to a trade offer for Kyrie this offseason.”