The Dallas Mavericks’ Tim Hardaway Jr. defended the team’s two biggest stars — Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving — after his father criticized them as not being leaders.
“I disagree with it 1,000%,” Hardaway Jr. told Callie Caplan of The Dallas Morning News. “I’ve come out numerous times and told you all how much leadership Luka has shown throughout my entire time here. … Kyrie has been nothing more than a leader since he’s been here.”
With the Mavs on the cusp of missing out on the postseason, just one year after going to the Western Conference finals, Tim Hardaway Sr., a five-time All-Star in the 1990s, made his comments earlier in the day on FS1’s “The Carton Show.”
“That trade wasn’t for them,” he said, referring to Dallas’ trade for Irving. “What isn’t broken doesn’t need to be fixed. They’re missing a leader out there. Luka is not a leader. Kyrie is not a leader. Jalen Brunson was a leader.”
Brunson, the Mavs’ third-leading scorer last season, signed with the New York Knicks as a free agent last offseason.
“A leader shows by example, too, by playing defense,” Hardaway Sr. said. “When he says something, he does it also, and that’s what a leader is. And like I said, those two guys are not leaders. They’re complementary, dominant great basketball players. Great scorers.”
Luka Doncic Shows Love to Kyrie Irving
The Mavericks kept their playoff hopes alive by picking up a crucial 123-119 win April 5 over the playoff-bound Sacramento Kings. Heading into their April 7 game against the Chicago Bulls, the Mavs were a half-game out of the 10th seed in the Western Conference standings with two games to play in the regular season. Dallas essentially has to win both to get into the Play-In tournament.
Irving scored 19 points in the fourth quarter alone to help the Mavericks beat the Kings.
“It was amazing, man,” Doncic told reporters after the game. “It was amazing to watch. When we most needed it, he showed up. So, it was amazing to watch.”
Doncic also spoke about what it’s been like to play with a player as talented as Irving, saying Irving is able to take the pressure off of him.
“Yeah, for sure. The caliber of player that Kyrie is is insane,” Doncic said. “The plays he made were insane, especially down the stretch. Some of the really tough shots, he made. But he’s been known for that. So, it’s amazing to watch.”
Jason Kidd Sounds Off on Christian Wood
Meanwhile, head coach Jason Kidd spoke about Christian Wood’s performance against Sacramento, noting that while he didn’t get off to a great offensive start, he still had a positive impact thanks to his defense.
“I thought C-Wood, again, didn’t get off to a great offensive start for us, but I thought, defensively, he was good for us, and being able to rebound and change shots,” Kidd told reporters after the game. “So, to be able to stay with it, he felt that his offense was going to come, and it did. He made a big three. But I thought defensively, he was really good. Unfortunately, he missed some shots that he normally makes there early, but I thought to show confidence, to leave him in the game, and then also his teammates were supportive. Helped him get over the hump.”