Kevin Garnett wasn’t surprised when Kyrie Irving skipped town.
The NBA legend explained to the New York Daily News’ Stefan Bondy on Tuesday why the point guard’s decision to leave the Boston Celtics last summer in free agency didn’t shock him at all. Garnett believes Irving’s seemingly mercurial mindset fit poorly with the Celtics’ passionately demanding fan base, starkly contrasting with how Boston embraced Celtics legend Paul Pierce.
“Boston’s a tough town, dawg,” Garnett said. “You have to have some major cojones to be there. You got to want that. The people want it for you. That’s why Paul (Pierce) is perfect for it. Paul wants the shot every time. Like, ‘You’re 0-for-14.’ And he’s like, ‘I know, but they want it.'”
Irving was Boston’s standout player in one of the team’s most disappointing seasons in recent memory. Although his statistics earned him a place on the All-NBA second team, he was the standout player on a team that began 2018-19 with the highest of expectations but didn’t come close to meeting them in the ensuing months. Furthermore, Irving joined the Brooklyn Nets roughly nine months after he stated his intention to re-sign with the Celtics, with his about-face cementing him as a figure of scorn in the city he called home for two years.
Having played for the Celtics between 2007 and 2013 and becoming a fan-favorite in the process, Garnett knows what it takes to cut in Boston and probably foresaw Irving’s failure to do so ahead of time.