Is Kyrie Irving’s homecoming off to a rocky start?
ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith said Thursday on “First Take” he’s “not hearing good things” about the Brooklyn Nets star point guard’s tenure with the team. The well-connected Smith cites Irving’s attitude as the subject of the bad reviews he receives about the 27-year-old’s first season with the Nets.
“The disagreement between he (Max Kellerman) and I with Boston is he blames a lot more on Kyrie than I do,” Smith said. “I look at the decision by Brad Stevens and Danny Ainge to insert Gordon Hayward into that lineup.
“But to buffer your point, Max, I will tell you this: I am not hearing good things about Kyrie in Brooklyn. … People are putting stuff out there. I don’t think it’s fair, I don’t know how accurate it is. If Kyrie’s listening, I’m telling you there is stuff circulating out there about him from an attitude perspective. I don’t think it’s right.”
Smith didn’t indicate exactly what was circulating about Irving, but ESPN’s Jackie MacMullan wrote in October the player’s off-court demeanor (i.e. “mood swings”) make Nets officials “queasy” and he often “shuts down” communication with coaches, teammates or the front office when it suits him. Sarah Kustok, an NBA analyst who covers the Nets, shot down those rumors earlier this month, but Smith either might have resurrected them or heard a new batch of reports about the All-Star point guard.
Negative rumors about Irving’s attitude will come as no surprise to Boston Celtics observers, who blame him for the team’s disappointing 2018-19 campaign and credit his exit for Boston’s surprisingly good start to the season.
Irving is averaging 28.5 points, 5.4 rebounds and 7.2 assists per game this season. However, he has missed Brooklyn’s last three games due to a shoulder injury, and the ailment might rule him out of action next Wednesday for his highly anticipated first return to Boston as an opponent.
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