Kyrie Irving’s NBA career featured a short-lived tenure with the Boston Celtics that ended with an ugly breakup, leading the flashy ball-handling point guard to join forces with Kevin Durant in signing with the Brooklyn Nets.
Since then, the now 30-year-old veteran has been the center of controversy from his never-ending battle(s) with the media to failure to meet league vaccination protocols — and that’s just with the Nets.
Irving, now embarking on his fourth campaign with Brooklyn, reflected on his initial trade request in the summer of 2017, which closed the door on his debut run with the Cleveland Cavaliers and birthed his rocky road of a stint with the Celtics.
“When I asked for a trade from Cleveland, the one thing that I look back on is, did I exhaust as many opportunities to get closer to guys when I felt some type of difference?” Irving told Shams Charania of The Athletic. “There was a lot of things that happened in the business that I didn’t understand. Asking for a trade, I don’t think it was my time to ask for a trade. And especially go to Boston, who was No. 2 in our conference, or No. 1, it was right down the street.”
With the Celtics in the midst of their rebuild process at the time, former team president of basketball operations Danny Ainge pulled a massive trigger in acquiring Irving in exchange for ex-fan favorite Isaiah Thomas along with Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic and an unprotected first-round pick in a blockbuster trade. However, after battles with injuries, playoff disappointments, and one broken pledge to commit to the Celtics long-term, Irving fled to Brooklyn in free agency.
“I’m grateful that I had my time there because it was one of the most historic franchises that, again, I did not know the power of our industry, the Boston Celtics, the history behind it,” Irving said. “When I reflect on it, at 30 years old, I understand the way that roles work. And if anybody can sit here honestly and say they messed up, it was me. Because if I’m saying that it is family-run and relationship-run, then while I was in these situations I didn’t handle all of those relationships as I would have wanted. … I have to choose me in order to do better.”
After three full seasons with the Nets, Irving and Durant have appeared in one Eastern Conference finals and most recently, endured a first-round sweep from the much younger and more inexperienced Celtics squad last season.
Targeting a greater role of leadership after departing from former teammate LeBron James, Irving has struggled. Just last season, Irving appeared in just 29 games for Brooklyn. His last 60-plus game campaign was during his final year with the Celtics in 2019.
The Nets kicked off their 2022-23 season in pretty underwhelming fashion, falling 130-108 against the New Orleans Pelicans. Irving shot 6-for-19 from the field in the contest and 0-for-6 from 3-point range, scoring 15 points with two rebounds and five assists in the loss.