Boston Celtics

Kyrie Irving of the Boston Celtics looks on during the second half of Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Milwaukee Bucks during the 2019 NBA Playoffs at TD Garden on May 06, 2019 in Boston, Massachusetts. The Bucks defeated the Celtics 113-101. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

By Matt Dolloff,

A new story on the Celtics paints a complicated picture of internal issues that went well beyond Kyrie Irving. But the soon-to-be-former Celtics All-NBA point guard was still at the center of its most infuriating detail.

Jackie MacMullan’s wide-ranging feature at ESPN details problems with head coach Brad Stevens, his handling of Gordon Hayward, and struggles reining in a toxic locker room. It covers the Celtics’ younger talent, which had some predictable growing pains of their own both on the court as players and off the court as professionals. It’s appropriately titled “Blame Kyrie? It’s not that simple, Boston” and the whole thing is worth your time and attention.

And yet, the most stunningly contemptible move of any person in the story still came from Irving. According to the article, after the season the Celtics laid out 100 basketballs for the entire team to sign for charity. Irving was the only one on the team who said no. And he didn’t necessarily do it in a dickish way – he just declined with no further explanation.

From Jackie Mac:

At the completion of the regular season, the team set up 100 balls in a room for their charitable partners. Everyone signed the balls except Irving. When pressed to do it, say team sources, he was neither aggressive nor confrontational. He merely said, “No, I’m not interested in that.”

One can imagine that Irving had some annoying conspiracy theory reason for not signing the basketballs. It’s not like the Celtics are scalpers who were going to turn around and sell the balls on eBay. It was for a good, worthy cause and Irving just didn’t want to participate in that. Probably not the first guy to do it, but it’s definitely not too surprising at this point.

To be fair, there are good details about Irving in the story that paint his coach and his younger, less experienced teammates in a poor light. So it’s important to read the full article to get the complete picture. But this insufferable anecdote about Irving and those poor, innocent charity balls deserves the critical attention it’s going to get.

Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff or email him at