Boston Celtics

Feb 17, 2019; Charlotte, NC, USA; Team Lebron forward Lebron James of the Los Angeles Lakers (23) celebrates with Team Lebron guard Kyrie Irving of the Boston Celtics (11) during the 2019 NBA All-Star Game at Spectrum Center. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

By Tony Massarotti, 98.5 The Sports Hub

First, Irving said, he had to acknowledge his talent and power. For years he watched James dictate the free agent market, determine his own fate, and call his own career shots. And while Irving begrudged that power because it affected him also, he also envied LeBron’s influence. -Excerpt from Gary Washburn’s column in Sunday’s Boston Globe.

So this is where we are now, stuck in the middle with Kyrie Irving, who ran from LeBron James but now emulates him. Confused? You should be. Throughout this season, after all, Irving and the Celtics have looked like a bunch of teenagers who can’t decide whom – or what – they want to be.

So here’s a tip for Kyrie: Don’t be LeBron.

In some ways, LeBron is an underachiever.

Let’s back up here for a minute. Indisputably, James is one of the greatest players of all-time, among a handful of true greats. But whether anyone wants to admit it or not, the truth is that a player of James’ abilities should have more than the three championships he possesses. But James’ ego has always gotten in the way – off the floor more than on – which has made him a victim of his own power.

Think about it: LeBron left Cleveland because he didn’t trust the ownership and management, which is fine. So he went to Miami and won two titles in four years with a team that he shamefully predicted might win as many as six. Then things got challenging in Miami because Pat Riley wouldn’t let LeBron steamroll the organization, so the self-proclaimed Greatest Player of All Time went back to Cleveland and won a championship there.

Feb 17, 2019; Charlotte, NC, USA; Team Lebron guard Kyrie Irving of the Boston Celtics (11) reacts on the Team Lebron bench during the All Star Game at Spectrum Center. Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

In the process, he so destroyed a Cleveland team from within that he saddled the Cavs with bad contracts and chased away Irving, a sensational talent and the team’s second-best player.

Look, James is great. To suggest otherwise would be asinine. But the question is whether his resume should be even better given how truly dominating he has been. The two players to whom James is most compared – Michael Jordan (six championships) and Magic Johnson (five) – won 11 titles between them. Heck, even Kobe Bryant won five, and he’s not as gifted as James is.

James has three. And before you suggest that he didn’t have nearly the same supporting cast as any of those other players, don’t let him off the hook. Part of the reason James’ teams fell short is because he acted like an egomaniacal power broker who was every bit as bad at roster construction as the team officials he routinely leveraged.

So how does this all relate to Kyrie? Because Irving is now heading down a dangerous path that in which he is more interested in flexing his muscles than in winning championships. He left James and Cleveland – despite three straight trips to the NBA Finals – because he got tired of LeBron’s act. If he leaves the Celtics this summer, he’ll be doing the same thing again. ESPN host Mike Greenberg suggested yesterday that Irving leaving Boston would establish a pattern of someone who is never happy, though we suppose that is par for the course for the modern NBA superstar who doesn’t just want to win, but wants to win without having to work for it. (Yes, this means you, LeBron. And you, too, Kevin Durant.)

And so, Earth to Kyrie: for someone who seemingly resented LeBron’s power, he certainly has spent a lot of time acting like him. He talks down to the younger members of the Celtics, at least publicly, whether they deserve it or not. And he has thus failed the first rule of leadership, which is to take none of the credit and all of the blame.

After all, LeBron James is a great talent, a great player.

But have you ever heard anyone call him a great leader?

You can hear Tony Massarotti weekdays from 2-6 p.m. EST on the Felger & Massarotti program. Follow him on Twitter @TonyMassarotti.