Since he entered the NBA in 2011, Brooklyn Nets superstar Kyrie Irving has been fortunate to play with a wealth of talent. During his stint with the Cleveland Cavaliers, he played with future Hall of Famer LeBron James and during his time with the Nets, he has already played with Kevin Durant and James Harden (who was traded to the Philadelphia 76ers in February).
But Irving hasn’t been the proverbial “leader” on most of the teams he has played for. He has often played second fiddle, particularly to LeBron and Durant. While some may say Irving’s desire to play with all-time great players is taking the easy way out, the 7-time All-Star says that the proclaimed gravy train is not always an easy road to take.
In a preview for an upcoming episode of HBO’s “The Shop”, which is produced by LeBron’s company Uninterrupted, the Nets star details how it can get ‘uncomfortable’ playing with stars of such high standing.
“Playing with ‘Bron and playing with KD, within our culture, they are true icons, but I had to fill in those shoes that were very uncomfortable for me,” Irving said.
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Charles Barkley Slams Durant’s Leadership Skills
Irving and Durant will start the season together for just the second time since becoming teammates in 2019. It is a sight that is pleasing to the eye of Nets fans as there was uncertainty on if the world would ever see them take the floor as teammates again.
Durant requested a trade from the Nets in June after being swept in the playoffs by the Boston Celtics. However, after Durant and the Nets could not find any trades that would benefit both parties, the two sides elected to move forward with their partnership.
Still, his decision to run it back with the Nets has left NBA Hall of Famer Charles Barkley unimpressed. The “Inside the NBA” host says it is just the latest example of Durant being an ‘abject failure’ as a leader.
“All the old guys, he gets mad we say it, (but) he piggybacked on the Warriors to win his first two championships. But if you go back and look at his career, as the best player and being the leader that all go with that, he’s been an abject failure,” Barkley said during an appearance on the Arizona radio show “Bickley and Marotta”.
“Every time he’s had to be the leader and best player, he has not had success. That’s what us old guys think about him.”
Analyst Dismisses Kyrie’s Superstar Status
Kyrie has missed a lot of time during his three seasons with the Nets. And because of it, he has sacrificed a lot, including All-Star selections, All-NBA selections, and consideration for NBA regular season awards. But even with all he has sacrificed in the last three seasons, Irving’s resume remains well-decorated as a 7-time All-Star and NBA champion.
Kyrie, when he plays, is still one of the best players in the NBA. But as far as being a superstar, NBA analyst Bill Simmons believes he has officially forfeited that title.
“People seem to think he’s a superstar. Look- he made one of the biggest shots in the history of the finals in 2016. In a game that was a rock fight, nobody was making anything, and then he makes his three. He’s great in 2017, that Cavs team was incredible offensively, but that was five years ago in 2017. People are judging him now based on Twitter and YouTube clips and some other highlights versus what he was, which was they got swept,” Simmons said on his self-titled podcast.
“He was healthy, he played, he had no injuries. He was 100 percent healthy. When you’re talking about, your top three’s and you just go through Brooklyn, KD, 34, who is still one of the best five players in this league, but then you have Kyrie, who has just not proven he’s a reliable regular season or the same, kind of, elite playoff performer.”
Kyrie will be under immense pressure to have one of the best seasons of his career in 2023, as it is a contract year for him. It will be interesting to see if he can silence his doubters.