Kyrie Irving typically takes his game to new heights when the postseason rolls around, but the star point guard wasn’t able to show off his playoff magic in his first season with the Boston Celtics.
After playing 60 regular-season games with the C’s, Irving’s debut campaign in Boston came to a screeching halt due to season-ending knee surgery. The Celtics fared just about as well as they could without Irving, coming one game short of reaching the NBA Finals.
Many believed Irving would be rubbed the wrong way by Boston’s lengthy postseason run, given it accomplished so much without him. During a press conference Tuesday, Irving admitted he was upset about missing the playoffs, but his reasoning quelled the aforementioned hot take.
“I mean, it sucked, man,” Irving told reporters, as captured by MassLive. “You know, you work extremely hard to be able to play really well on that big of a stage. The identity of our team was really forming at that time — at the All-Star break. To have something like that unexpected, it was hurtful because of a lot of what I wanted to accomplish with our guys and individually as one of the leaders of the team. Kind of had to take a rest and really be an outsider looking in at that point.
“I’m still around, obviously it wasn’t going to feel the same. But I’m so proud of our guys and what they did. They passed a lot of expectations. I couldn’t be more proud of them.”
Irving went on to admit that “redemption” would be the theme of his 2018-19 season, so you can expect the five-time All-Star to put on a show if (when) the C’s reach the postseason next spring.
Thumbnail photo via Winslow Townson/USA TODAY Sports