Celtics fans seemed to get a kick out of Kyrie Irving’s latest viral soundbite.
Stephen A. Smith, however, wasn’t at all amused.
Irving issued a blunt criticism of the Nets on Wednesday after their road loss to the Philadelphia 76ers. While Irving believes Brooklyn does have “great” pieces in the fold at present, he also thinks it’s “pretty glaring” the team is in need of another piece or two, even when you take Kevin Durant into account.
Smith took issue with the remark, and he explained why Thursday morning on ESPN’s “First Take.”
“I gotta admit, I’m incredibly disappointed in Kyrie Irving right now,” Smith said. “I mean, you’re out 26 games with that left shoulder impingement, OK? A lot of people felt it should have been a hell of a lot sooner. That’s not for us to say. You’re hurt, bro. You’re hurt, you’re all-world when you’re balling. We know your skill, we understand all of that. How the hell are you gonna make a statement like this? How? You’re 18-22. I got news for y’all ladies and gentlemen: Kenny Atkinson is doing a hell of a job. Sean Marks, the executive for the Brooklyn Nets, is doing a hell of a job. The person that hasn’t been doing their job has been Kyrie, albeit not his fault ’cause he was out for 26 games. When he’s played, he’s averaging 27. But the point is, considering the fact you don’t have KD and they didn’t have you, to be 18-22 led by Spencer Dinwiddie and (Caris) LeVert and (Jarrett) Allen and Joe Harris and the crew, I’ve been very proud of what I’ve seen from the Brooklyn Nets.
“So the point that I’m trying to make, Kyrie, your statement about, ‘We need a piece, everybody can understand that. We’re a piece away’ — what the hell are you talking about? That’s why you’re there! Now, if you sat up there and said, ‘We need a piece, and the piece is Kevin Durant and when Kevin Durant comes here, this is what we’ll be,’ — no problem with that whatsoever. That’s not what Kyrie Irving said. What Kyrie Irving said is, ‘Even if Kevin Durant were here’ — I’m paraphrasing based on his quote — ‘Even if Kevin Durant were here and I were here and we are healthy, it’s very glaring that we are missing a piece.’ Who the hell are you talking to? That’s not true. That is not true. If Kevin Durant were healthy and Kyrie Irving were healthy, the Brooklyn Nets would be a top-two seed in the Eastern Conference. We’d be talking about the potential of them going to the Finals. What the hell are you talking about?”
Irving’s assessment of the Nets might have been a bit dramatic considering, you know, Durant has yet to play a game in a Nets uniform. And when you look at the lay of the land in the East, it’s not tough to imagine Brooklyn making a significant jump in the standings if KD was in action.
But as basketball fans have learned, sometimes Irving just can’t remove himself from the heat of the moment.