Boston Celtics

By Ty Anderson,

Kyrie Irving — the Celtic leader who could get almost anything he wanted from coaches, management, and fans with one smile and some fake-deep quotes on a life many could only dream of — seems hellbent on making it clear that he hates his situation.

Irving’s latest outburst came before the Celtics even got on the court for their fifth loss in six games, as Irving told an ABC camera crew filming him, “I’m not gonna miss this s–t when I’m done playing.” When made aware that he was speaking into a hot mic, Irving let it be known that he did not care.

First of all, great mindset heading into a big game, gotta love it.

Secondly, it really made absolutely no sense.

If you’ve watched any nationally televised game in oh, I don’t know, the last decade, you’d notice that they do this with every star player. Every single one. Even the ones that aren’t that great. It’s not like TMZ mobbing you on the way to your car. You’re not being filmed and exposed while you eat dinner with your friends and family. You’re not even getting asked questions by reporters following you. You’re simply walking to your locker room on a gameday (and a big one at that) and being filmed by a camera crew that’s beyond excited to slap your face all over their coverage.

If this is a big deal… yikes.

This sudden and unfounded resentment for fame also goes against prettttttty much everything Irving has been about.

If Irving truly hated the spotlight, he wouldn’t do exclusive one-on-one interviews with Rachel Nichols and go in-depth on the problems he’s faced with the C’s. He wouldn’t make legitimate efforts to build a successful Nike brand (good luck finding any of his limited editions when they hit shelves) around “what he represents.” He wouldn’t star in movies — an Uncle Drew sequel nobody asked for is on the way, by the way — and record songs for that movie’s soundtrack. Most importantly, though, he would not have been OK with a trade to a basketball-crazed city like Boston, and would have instead asked to hide in a Sacramento or Orlando, where he would only be recognized in occasional Sportscenter’s Top 10 countdown reruns.

See, Irving acts like his all-universe talents are a burden and that the public’s attraction to that is not welcomed, but also seeks the opportunities to showcase his skills and shine on the biggest stages this game has to offer. He wants to be identified as way more than an elite basketball player, but also acts like he wants to live in a lighthouse with no electricity.

Everything about Irving really seems to be a completely maddening contradiction.

There’s also something to be said for the fact that Irving has yet to see a 2018-19 problem he didn’t want to exacerbate. Irving is easily annoyed by messages and situations he can 100 percent control, both internally to his teammates (his private discussions with teammates could easily crush any room-destroying rumor he’s worried about) and externally to a relatively soft media he could legitimately shut up by simply saying that their information is incorrect. (And if you truly believe the media has it out for you, why even give a then-harmless camera crew ammunition before your day even begins?)

Irving often sees the mess in front of him and breaks his own ankles right into it. As if he enjoys creating his own misery.

But good luck talking about any of this.

You can’t criticize a player who is so clearly ambivalent about his situation in Boston and run the risk of helping him make his decision to leave. Because that seems rational. And as if his almost-open disdain for everything right now isn’t louder than any column this irrelevant idiot writes or what’s said on an Internet that Kyrie doesn’t consider “real life.” 

We’re still somehow trying to convince ourselves that everything’s cool and this is all just made-up media madness? Even when Irving is legitimately walking into an arena (full of people begging for him to call home on a new max deal, mind you) and seeking out a combative exchange with… nameless cameramen looking to boost his visibility? Seems totally normal.

The Celtics themselves aren’t allowed to do anything about this. Not that they could even if they wanted to, to be honest.

Irving is still the most talented player on this roster (by a long shot), and his talent absolutely comes through in crunch-time. If the Celtics are to win a title this year — or any year in the foreseeable future, for that matter — it’s with No. 11 on the court and as their top threat. He’s also the biggest piece of any summertime plans to upgrade this roster, as players (Anthony Davis) would seemingly want to come to Boston only if it’s to play with Irving and run the East.

It’s why Brad Stevens dances around any sort of question that features even the slightest criticism of Irving, and why Danny Ainge (a man that’s rarely shown any sort of fear behind a mic) has been forced to do the same.

It’s schmoozing season, and the C’s are still in their (what’s beginning to feel like an unsuccessful) season-long pitch to Irving.

The other way to phrase this: The Celtics and their fans are being held hostage by an impossible-to-read superstar that clearly dictates this team’s ceiling in so many others but so obviously hates everything about this experience he wanted less than two years ago.

And you’re simply left to hope that it doesn’t hit the point where he mentally disengages on what truly matters.

It’s the last potential fallout this already mentally-fried Celtics team, a group still struggling to find their footing as a cohesive team 64 games into a year that started with championship hopes, needs to deal with right now in their attempt to salvage a season that opened with legitimate championship aspirations.

At least we all agree on something: At this rate, we’re not gonna miss this s–t when they’re done playing.

Ty Anderson is a writer and columnist for 98.5 The Sports Hub. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Yell at him on Twitter @_TyAnderson.