BOSTON – Gordon Hayward rattled off a slew of commonalities between himself and new teammate Kyrie Irving, which includes both having the same March 23 birthday.
But what might have gotten lost in the conversation, was the in-the-moment chit-chat the two players had at the podium, which included both asking the other who should talk with Irving encouraging Hayward to take the lead.
- Irving, Gordon Hayward introduced as Celtics
- Irving: It was 'awesome' playing with LeBron James
- Hayward on Tom Brady: I'm still a Colts guy
- VIDEOS: More 1-on-1 interviews with Irving, Hayward and Danny Ainge
It may not mean much in the grand scheme of what this team’s goals will be this season – to be better from one day to the next and, in the end, compete for the Larry O’Brien Trophy.
Still, it does speak to some degree about how both players understand both on and off the court, the importance of being on the same page.
That will be sorted out later this month when training camp starts, a time for both players to jell with one another as well as their new teammates.
But make no mistake about it.
At they join a new team filled with young players, there’s no guarantee things will click immediately.
And guess who’ll get the blame when that happens?
“It’s the ownership’s fault when it goes badly,” quipped Celtics co-owner Steve Pagliuca.
Said Hayward: “We’ve been in this league long enough to realize that it’s like that at a lot of places. What’s special about here, they seem like they’re pretty educated sports fans here. So they know a little bit more.”
And then he explained his approach which – no shocker here – sounded a lot like Celtics coach Brad Stevens, who also coached Hayward at Butler University.
“For me, I never try to get too high on the highs, too low on the lows because it can change quickly either way,” Hayward said. “I try to not look at outside people think; we look inside the locker room, we believe in ourselves and keep it moving from there.”
Irving, whose request for a trade from Cleveland went public in July, will likely have a different set of expectations on him than his teammates or the man he’s replacing in the lineup, Isaiah Thomas.
Because he was looking to play more of a leading man’s role and get out from under the enormous shadow cast by LeBron James, there will those who will look to him to carry a significant part of the load this season for the Celtics.
“Is there ever such a thing as one person carrying a whole team? I don’t think so,” Irving said. “When you have a collection of individuals and you all have one goal, and collectively getting better every single day, there are a lot of moving parts. You have to depend on those moving parts to do their job to their ultimate ability that only they do know. It’s our job to bring out the best in one another every single day. That’s been echoed throughout this entire organization as well as the players, and the tradition that’s here in Boston. There is no one player. There’s some very special talent. But the team’s get remembered more than the players, even though you do have some Hall of Famers here.
A grinning Irving added, “a few. A few numbers retired in those rafters. The appreciation goes a lot deeper because of that team atmosphere.”
And that atmosphere will only be enhanced with these two getting on the same page sooner rather than later as their journey towards Banner 18 begins now.