At the beginning of last season, Kyrie Irving told a raucous Boston Celtics crowd that he would re-sign with the team if they wanted him. Fast-forward a whole season later and we know exactly what happened with that promise. Irving ended up leaving the team and joined the Brooklyn Nets alongside Kevin Durant. Towards the end of Kyrie’s tenure in Boston, he was heavily criticized for being a bad leader and breaking up the team’s chemistry. In a recent interview, Celtics president of basketball operations, Danny Ainge, defended Kyrie and said he shouldn’t take all of the responsibility for what went down.
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“I continually tried to remove that pressure from Kyrie and [tell him to] just be yourself, just go play, just have fun, find joy in the game. Quit trying to be something you’re not. Just forget about all this nonsense about, ‘You have to get other people involved, you have to be the leader of the team, you have to be Superman to our team.’ He didn’t need to do that. I think he did feel that burden, that he had to be too much, and wasn’t able to do that. Yes, we had chemistry issues during the season and I did say on the show that it was not all on Kyrie. It was a lot of people who were responsible for chemistry issues. I don’t like the fact that all the blame is on him. I’d like everyone to take responsibility for that. So I feel like the Kyrie bashing is unfair. That’s all.”
Now that Irving is playing alongside KD, he won’t have to worry too much about being the leader as it assumed that Durant will want to take over that role. It’s interesting to see Ainge make these comments though especially considering Irving “ghosted” the Celtics near the end.