Kyrie Irving Makes Candid Admission About Losing To Celtics In Playoffs

The Nets star felt 'embarrassed' leaving the court


September 26

The Boston Celtics didn’t just beat Kyrie Irving and the Brooklyn Nets in the first round of the NBA playoffs last season.

They eliminated their Eastern Conference adversary with a four-game sweep, sending Irving into the offseason with a deflated feeling he’s rarely felt in his basketball career.

“It was a lot, just on my shoulders, just going back home, knowing that we got swept the way we did,” Irving told reporters Monday during Nets media day. “To be honest with you, it was probably the first time — or one of the only times in my career where I felt embarrassed leaving the court.”

The Celtics ultimately reached the NBA Finals, beating the Milwaukee Bucks and Miami Heat before losing to the Golden State Warriors with the Larry O’Brien Trophy hanging in the balance. The Nets, meanwhile, entered the summer facing questions, some of which centered around Irving and whether he’d be back with Brooklyn for the 2022-23 season.

Irving ended up opting into his $36.5 million player option with the Nets, though that did little to slow trade rumors involving the seven-time All-Star. And Kevin Durant stayed put, as well, despite requesting a trade. Brooklyn now figures to enter the upcoming campaign with Irving, Durant and Ben Simmons, a scenario that seemed rather unlikely shortly after the Nets’ playoff elimination.

“I’d be lying to you if I told you it wasn’t fuel to the fires. It’s definitely a lot of fuel to the fire,” Irving said of the Celtics’ sweep. “But it wasn’t just because we got swept and because it was Boston, or any of the emotional ties to that. It was because of how things collapsed towards the end of last season. Just a lot of details that I wasn’t a part of that I missed and we just couldn’t make up for time.

“And now that we have a new page to turn with everyone healthy, I just look forward to saving all these moments where I felt like there was levels of doubt — of whether or not I was going to play, whether or not I was going to be on the team, teammates, or anything like that. Any small doubts. I don’t want to have any doubts or any regrets. Just come in with an understanding that things are going to be imperfect at times, but handling it responsibly and communicating goes a long way. Great lessons to be learned from those moments.”

The Nets certainly have the talent to contend for an NBA title this season, and the ongoing Ime Udoka drama in Boston only raises questions about the Celtics’ ability to repeat as Eastern Conference champions. You never really know what you’re going to get from Kyrie Irving, one of the most polarizing players in NBA history, but it’s clear he has a bad taste in his mouth after being bounced by his former team last season.

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Thumbnail photo via Vincent Carchietta/USA TODAY Sports Images
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