Despite multiple current Celtics insisting otherwise, plenty of blame has been directed at Kyrie Irving for Boston’s woes the past couple seasons.
Paul Pierce said Irving has a “front-runner mentality” and deserved an unpleasant return to TD Garden. Kevin Garnett said he wasn’t surprised Irving couldn’t cut it in Boston. Kendrick Perkins has “lost all respect” for Irving, questioned his intelligence and ripped him for missing his return to Boston.
Irving, now with the Brooklyn Nets, has missed much of this season due to issues with his shoulder, but he addressed the media for the first time in a while Saturday afternoon. During his media availability, he was asked about some of that criticism he’s received from ex-Celtics.
Here’s the full transcript of Irving’s response, via Mike Mazzeo.
The big picture, when I started playing basketball, you realize that a lot of variables come into play with all this. I do it because I love it. But at the end of the day, it’s entertainment. Fans love to be entertained, and I think that I myself kind of fell into that cycle of being emotionally attached to something like that, especially when I’m watching the game at home with my family, much to the fact that it wasn’t about the players on the floor during that day. It became about me and where I was and what I was doing. For basketball to become more about just one individual player, and it’s a team sport, just to justify market value or bringing more fans to the games or justifying why all that stuff happens, so be it. That’s entertainment.
I’ve got nothing but love for Boston, nothing but love for the journey I had with all those guys. I appreciate everyone standing up for me and speaking on my behalf and telling it’s not all my fault, it’s not all on him. I’m a man. I’m able to take criticism. I haven’t taken it well in the past. But at this point in my career it’s just the big picture that I need to focus on winning a championship here and how do I make this organization better and we move forward from that point. I can’t control what anyone says about me when I’m not talking or when I am talking or when I’m in an arena or when I’m not. People are going to say regardless whatever they feel. I respect that, but at the end of the day it’s entertainment, man. It’s changing.
It’s a predictably long and winding answer from Irving, but that’s about as clear and direct a response as we’ll get from him — though that probably won’t change the feelings Pierce and Co. have towards him.