Whenever Kyrie Irving opens his mouth, the result often is cringe-worthy.
That wasn’t the case Friday night, however.
The Boston Celtics held a “much-needed” team meeting after their ugly loss to the Milwaukee Bucks at TD Garden. Players predictably were tight-lipped about what was said behind closed doors, but Irving offered some useful clues, as well as some refreshing honesty.
“I’m playing the game I love every day,” Irving said. “Sometimes being in the journey can seem like dark spots going on, you’re challenged, you don’t know what to do and that’s fine. I’ll be the first to admit I’ve dealt with my own challenges to be more consistent in the defensive end, do things for myself that would be more beneficial for our team as a whole. Truth is, I’m not necessarily playing the minutes I would want, the role I would want, that I selfishly would want for myself. That all goes on the back burner in terms of being patient with what I have to do to grow as a leader of this team and help these other young guys to be more prepared for what they will encounter as they get older in this league and are going through right now.
“That’s part of the deal that I have, not just worrying how many shots I get or how successful I am. It’s how successful are we as a team. What can I do to really make these guys feel comfortable out there, and just doing more to make sure their success matters as much as mine. That’s the important thing — just consistency with that and patient with them.”
Irving didn’t call out any of his teammates by name, but if you read between the lines, it’s pretty clear the star guard thinks players like Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum are playing too much hero ball.
When asked whether players are playing too selfishly, Irving offered this gem:
“I get caught up in that as well,” Irving said. “For me, it’s a hard challenge, because there’s a balance I have. I literally can do anything I want out there any time I want, but at the same time it’s what can I do for my teammates to be more successful. I have to be more conscientious of that.”
Translation: “I’m absolutely nasty at basketball and can dominate if I feel like it. But I gotta get others involved, and I’m trying to do that.”
Listen, humility from elite professional athletes often is somewhat disingenuous; they know they’re the best. Nevertheless, it’s pretty cool to hear Irving say what most Celtics fans are thinking.
Whether Friday night’s meeting helps Boston turn a corner remains to be seen. The Celtics will look to snap a three-game losing streak Sunday night when they host Kemba Walker and the Charlotte Hornets.