The Boston Celtics have moved on. So has Kyrie Irving.
But every now and then, we’re reminded of the disastrous effect that Irving seemingly had on Boston’s locker room chemistry, particularly during the 2018-19 NBA season.
The latest reminder came Thursday when Celtics head coach Brad Stevens discussed his newly signed contract extension during a video conference with reporters before Boston’s final seeding game against the Washington Wizards.
Stevens pointed out how “difficult” last season was and how “reinvigorating” this season has been, which obviously is interesting in wake of Irving’s departure last summer and even more damning when you consider everything else about 2020 — in basketball and beyond — has been a total mess.
“Obviously last year was really difficult, but this year has been reinvigorating in a ton of ways for a ton of us,” Stevens said. “I think that we’re all excited about where we are and where we’re headed. In the course of seven years, if you would have told me when I came in July of 2013 that the first seven years were going to look like this, I would have been thrilled.”
Was Stevens intentionally taking a shot at Irving, now a member of the Brooklyn Nets? Probably not. After all, the Celtics mostly have defended Irving since he left in free agency by downplaying the negative impact he had on Boston’s on-court and off-court morale.
Still, 2020 and “reinvigorating” usually aren’t used in the same sentence nowadays. So, it’s not the best look for Irving that Stevens and the Celtics are thriving again with him out of the equation.