Can Kyrie Irving lead the Boston Celtics deep into the NBA playoffs?

With LeBron James’ departure from the Eastern Conference, Boston was pegged prior to the season as the team to beat in the East. The Celtics haven’t lived up to the hype — currently sitting in fourth place in the conference standings, 11.5 games behind the Milwaukee Bucks — and have faced multiple question marks throughout the year. One of these questions has been star point guard Kyrie Irving’s handling of teammates and media leading some to question his leadership.

Irving apologized for his treatment of the media last month, and seems to be in a much better state of mind lately.

Hall of Fame point guard Isaiah Thomas joined Mike Greenberg and Jalen Rose on ESPN’s “Get Up!” to discuss the six-time All-Star and what he has to do to be a leader for the Celtics.

“They have talent, they have good coaching. The question is, can Kyrie (Irving) lead,” Thomas said “No one questions his playing ability, and I don’t even think he questions his playing ability. I think what he is trying to figure out, and still growing into is can you be a leader of men? Can the men in the locker room trust you to communicate with them properly, to show up and be on time and do the things on and off the court that makes your teammates respect you and want you and accept you as their leader?”

Thomas continued.

“They say it’s lonely at the top, and it is a lonely existence,” he said. “When everyone else is going out, you have to stay at home. When everyone else is going off their diet, you have to eat right. When everyone else is doing some of the wrong things, you have to always do the right thing and that’s the only way you’re going to gain their respect and their trust.”

With Boston playoff-bound and the regular season winding down, Irving soon will have a chance to show the world how far he can lead the C’s.

Thumbnail photo via Steve Mitchell/USA TODAY Sports Images