By Tony Massarotti, 98.5 The Sports Hub
Simple truth: There is the way things should be. And there is the way things are. And the latter is why the Celtics should let Kyrie Irving play in the All-Star Game.
At least for now.
Too soft an approach? You bet it is, but take a good look: this is our world now. Irving is both a modern-day NBA star and a millennial, which is a double-double of the highest order. That makes him an entitled, self-absorbed, self-important egomaniacal diva, which isn’t necessarily his fault. This is what we have cultivated, so we have to deal with it.
Again, at least for now.
But we’ll clarify that in a moment.
If you’re a Celtics fan or follower, ask yourself a very simple question: what’s the goal here? And you’re answer should be simple: to get Irving to commit to the Celtics long-term. That’s it. The goal this season isn’t necessarily a championship, as crazy as that may sound. When the Celtics started this process of accumulating draft picks and assets, the idea was to build something more sustainable than the Kevin Garnett years. That means more than one title. That means more than a three-year run.
The moment the Celtics traded for Irving, he became the center of that. And the Celtics should continue doing everything in their power to give them the best chance of re-signing him on July 1. In the NBA, keeping the star player happy is a priority, especially in contract years. That is true of LeBron James, Kevin Durant or Kawhi Leonard. And it’s true of Anthony Davis, too, which is why the New Orleans Pelicans tried bringing in DeMarcus Cousins a couple of years ago.
Does it always work? No. But doing anything short of serious butt-kissing destroys any chance.
That said, let’s make this clear: you don’t have to like it. You shouldn’t like it. But it’s a sacrifice worth making, at least for now, when the Celtics are still trying to put the final pieces in place to make themselves a legitimate championship-caliber team for years to come.
If and when that happens – a period that begins with Irving putting his name on the dotted line – then the Celtics can dig in and establish a diva-free culture.
But don’t kid yourself.
Even then, they’re will have to sacrifice at least some of what they believe in to make it all work.
We all do.