Celtics

A full timeline of Kyrie Irving's comments about Celtics, future in Boston

A full timeline of Kyrie Irving's comments about Celtics, future in Boston

Why are Kyrie Irving's latest comments causing such a stir?

As always, context is key.

Irving opened the door for speculation he may leave the Boston Celtics in free agency, telling reporters at Madison Square Garden on Friday to "ask me July 1" about whether he'll re-sign.

Irving's remarks stood in contrast to the apparent promise he made to Celtics fans in October that he planned to stay in Boston for the long haul.

So, what should we make of his apparent flip-flop? You be the judge.

Below is a timeline of the notable comments Irving has made since joining the Celtics via trade from the Cleveland Cavaliers in August 2017.

September 1, 2017: Irving explains his reasoning for demanding a trade from the Cleveland Cavaliers and LeBron James at his introductory press conference.

"It was my time to do what was best for me in terms of my intentions, and that’s going after something bigger than myself and honestly being in an environment that’s conducive to my potential. I think that statement is self-explanatory, because it’s pretty direct in terms of what my intent is: To be happy and to be with a group of individuals that I can grow with.

“And that’s not a knock on anything that’s transpired in my six years [on the Cavaliers], because it was an unbelievable experience. … So, me leaving wasn’t about basketball. It was more or less about creating that foundation of me in Cleveland, and then now taking this next step as a 25-year-old evolving man and being the best basketball player I can be.”

June 12, 2018: Entering the final season of his contract, Irving is asked whether he'll sign an extension with the Celtics before the 2018-19 season.

"Contractually, financially, it just doesn’t make any sense. I’m pretty sure management and I will have a talk, but that talk won’t happen now."

October 4, 2018: Irving announces his intention to re-sign with the Celtics during a question-and-answer session with season ticket holders at TD Garden.

"I shared it with some of my teammates as well as the organization and everyone else in Boston: If you guys will have me back, I plan on re-signing here next year."

October 5, 2018: Irving explains his surprise announcement to the media the following day.

"I have every intention of signing with Boston next year. I do have a dream of putting my No. 11 in the rafters one day if I'm so blessed to do that. I've worked my tail off, obviously a lot of great players have come before me, but to throw my name in Boston Celtics tradition and history is something I'm glad I can do. And I'm planning on doing so."

" ... Honestly, thinking about starting over was just a shitty thought. Honestly. It just was like, man, I do not want to move again. I do not want to uproot my family and just be dealing with everything new again. No disrespect to any other organizations, but here was a perfect fit."

October 5, 2018: Following a game against the Knicks in New York, Irving confirms he considered requesting a trade to his hometown team before joining Boston.

"Every team was under consideration. But obviously New York held a special place for me, being from Jersey and obviously envisioning myself as a free agent, and ultimately taking a meeting, playing for Fiz [coach David Fizdale], and the great young core they have, thinking about playing here. Playing with KP [Kristaps Porzingis], that was a big thing, before I made my decision to plan on re-signing back with Boston. But yeah, of course, New York was a strong consideration."

November 12, 2018: After a 1-4 road trip, Irving suggests the Celtics should add another veteran player.

"Looking at this locker room, me being in my eighth year and being a ‘veteran’ as well as Al [Horford] and [Aron] Baynes. Right now I think it would be nice if we had someone that was a 15-year vet, a 14-year vet that could kind of help us race along the regular season and understand it’s a long marathon rather than just a full-on sprint, when you want to play, when you want to do what you want to do."

January 12, 2019: Irving appears to demand more from the Celtics' young players after a road loss to the Orlando Magic.

"Experience. It’s the best thing I can say is experience. We’re lacking it and, because of that, we have a lot of learning to do. So we have a lot of ground to make up in that aspect. It gets tough. When it gets hard you’ve got to think. You’ve got to do the right things. You can’t gamble and think that it’s going to be the winning play. You’ve got to be able to play the full 48 minutes, no matter what’s going on, and hold your head high when you make mistakes. When your job is called upon, you’ve got to do it to the best of your ability. You’ve got to come in and make an impact for the minutes that you’re playing out there. 

"You’ve got to appreciate being out there and just competing. It doesn’t matter who you’re going against. It matters the type of preparation you have, what you’re going out and trying to accomplish. What’s the big picture? What are we doing here? These are things I don’t think some of my teammates have faced of just every single day. It’s not easy to be great."

January 16, 2019: Irving admits he called LeBron James to apologize for past disagreements and ask for leadership advice.

"I had to call Bron and tell him, I apologized for being that young player that wanted everything at his fingertips, and I wanted everything to be at my threshold. I wanted to be the guy that led us to a championship. I wanted to be the leader. I wanted to be all that and the responsibility of being the best in the world and leading your team is something that is not meant for many people. Bron was one of those guys that came to Cleveland and tried to show us what it’s like to win a championship. And it was hard for him and sometimes getting the most out of the group is not the easiest thing in the world.

" ... So, I think what that brought me back to was like, all right, how do I get the best out of this group to the success they had last year and then helping them realize what it takes to win a championship.”

February 1, 2019: Irving appears to renege on his October promise, instead insisting he'll make the decision that's best for him.

"At the end of the day, I’m going to do what’s best for my career. I spent the last eight years trying to do what everyone else wanted me to do -- managers, other personnel -- and I don't owe anybody shit.

"I still have confidence in Boston and what they can promise for the future and what we have in terms of pieces. That’s what excited me at the beginning of the season."

"... It’s my decision at the end of the day. Who cares who said what’s best for him, like, it doesn’t matter. It’s unwarranted commentary, and of course it’s going to continue throughout the season. I’m aware of that. I’m a professional, I’m not going to disrespect anybody but like I said, it really comes down to what’s best for me and my family."

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NBA picks: Celtics vs. Warriors betting predictions, plays against the spread

NBA picks: Celtics vs. Warriors betting predictions, plays against the spread

Welcome to the "upside down," where the Golden State Warriors are the worst team in the NBA.

The Warriors are plummeting from grace, taking a 2-10 record and a five-game losing streak into Friday's matchup with the Boston Celtics, who remain the No. 1 team in basketball at 9-1.

We haven't quite had Celtics-level success picking Boston's games this season, but we're still above water at 15-8-1 overall and are 5-1-0 picking the moneyline, point spread and point total in the Celtics' last two contests.

As the C's pack their bags for a five-game West Coast swing, we'll look to roll along with them. Here are our betting picks for Celtics-Warriors, as well as two NBA locks against the spread.

(All odds provided by WestGate Superbook.)

Boston Celtics at Golden State Warriors, 10:30 p.m. ET

Moneyline: The Celtics (-330) got great contributions from their bench in Wednesday's win over the Washington Wizards. They'll need to tighten up that defense, but Boston's talent up and down the roster should help the C's cruise to their 10th consecutive win.

Point Spread: We suppose this could be a trap game. The Warriors have to snap their five-game losing streak at some point, and upstart rookie Eric Paschall could give Boston problems in the paint. That said ... Golden State is 1-4-1 against the spread at home this season (isn't Chase Center lovely, though?), and the Celtics (-7) are too deep not to win by double digits.

Point Total: The Celtics just scored their most points in regulation game since 1992 and are facing the second-worst defense in the NBA. The 223.5 point total is actually lower than Wednesday's game, but regardless, we're taking the OVER with the Celtics until notified otherwise.

Darren's record picking the Celtics' moneyline, point spread and point total: 15-8-1

NBA Locks of the Night

Washington Wizards at Minnesota Timberwolves (-7): The Wolves smoked the Wizards by 22 points in their own gym earlier this month. Maybe Washington makes an adjustment, but I'm riding Andrew Wiggins' hot hand and banking on Minnesota to handle its business.

Indiana Pacers at Houston Rockets (-5.5): This line has dropped after opening at 7.5, which suggests an upset could be brewing. I'm not buying it. Indiana is down Myles Turner and Jeremy Lamb against a Rockets team that's won five in a row and just dispatched the Los Angeles Clippers.

Darren's record picking NBA locks against the spread: 9-6-1

Looking for the best unfiltered Celtics conversation each week and throughout the offseason? Listen and Subscribe to the Celtics Talk Podcast!

Don’t miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-Warriors, which tips off Friday at 9:30 p.m. ET with Celtics Pregame Live, and then Mike & Scal have the call of the game at 10:30 p.m. You can also stream the game through the MyTeams App.

It's Tacko time in Maine, with Tacko Fall set to make Red Claws home debut

It's Tacko time in Maine, with Tacko Fall set to make Red Claws home debut

PORTLAND, Maine — Tacko Fall has been mobbed enough times by fans to the point where there’s very little that those who want a piece of Tacko can do that will surprise him. 

And then he came to Maine as one of the newest members of the Maine Red Claws, the Celtics’ G-League affiliate.

He hasn’t been in town too long, but he can tell that their passion for the team runs deep.

And that passion has led to some pretty unusual interactions and autograph requests for Tacko, like the fan who wanted him to sign their forehead and another wanting him to write his name on their hand.

“A lady wanted me to take a picture the other day and she just sat on my lap,” Tacko recalled. “They’re just very friendly. People in Maine, really nice people.”

Which is why tonight’s home opener for the Red Claws is arguably the most anticipated one since the franchise's inception in 2009. (Tonight's game can be seen live on NBC Sports Boston at 7:00 p.m. and it can be streamed online or via the MyTeams app.)

There was an undeniable spike in interest — and ticket sales — shortly after the Celtics signed Tacko to one of their two-way contracts.

That means Tacko will spend most of this season with the Red Claws along with fellow two-way contract signee Tremont Waters. 

But even before Tacko signed his two-way deal, Red Claws fans began inquiring about him dating back to this summer when he was a member of Boston’s summer league roster. 

At that time, he was signed to an Exhibit 10 contract, which essentially meant he would get a chance to compete for a roster spot in training camp with minimal assurances beyond that. 

But with the Celtics summer league squad, Tacko showed promise at the NBA level even though he still looked more like a player who would need some seasoning in say, you know, the G-League. 

“After his first appearance in summer league with the Celtics, we couldn’t go a day in the state of Maine without someone asking, “Is Tacko going to be in Maine?” Dajuan Eubanks, President of the Red Claws, said during a press conference last month announcing that the Celtics had taken over ownership of the team. 

Much of the interest surrounding the 7-foot-7 center is based on his eye-catching height. 

But what’s often lost in Tacko-mania is the fact that the 23-year-old big man is working towards fulfilling his dream of being a regular mainstay in the NBA. 

He has already had a taste of what it’s like to play in an NBA game. 

During a blowout win over the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden last month, Tacko saw his first regular-season action amid a chorus of Knicks fans cheering for him to enter the game. Yes, Knicks fans cheering for a Celtic. In New York. 

And to Tacko’s credit, he made the most of his four minutes of action by scoring four points to go with three rebounds in Boston’s 118-95 victory. 

“It’s just a blessing to be out there,” Tacko told NBC Sports Boston shortly after the win over the Knicks. “Not everyone gets the opportunity I have right now. Like I said, it’s definitely a blessing and I don’t take it for granted.”

And a similar approach is being taken with his time with the Red Claws. 

While the fanfare and adulation is nice, Tacko — as well as those associated with the Red Claws — are all on the same page as far as what his time in Maine is truly about. 

“He’s accommodating and he’s a very fine individual,” Eubanks said in a phone interview with NBC Sports Boston. “But he’s also there to do a job and get better and hopefully make a good name for himself in the NBA.”

And it is that latter point raised by Eubanks that far too often gets lost in the discussion as it relates to Tacko. 

“We all know that because he’s so tall that for most people, that’s what they are going to talk about,” said Celtics forward Grant Williams, who is one of Tacko’s closest friends on the Celtics roster. “But he’s a basketball player and he’s getting better and better.”

And that growth will be on display tonight for the first time in front of the Red Claw faithful at the Portland Exposition Building.

The Red Claws (1-0) opened the season with a 148-125 road win over Delaware, a game in which Tacko came off the bench and finished with a double-double of 13 points and 11 rebounds to go with three blocked shots, a steal and an assist. 

Tacko said he has heard a lot of good things about the Red Claws crowds, and is eager to give them something to cheer about as he continues along his basketball odyssey that began in Senegal as a youngster, and now has him in Portland, Maine where the says he people have been great to him. 

But the weather?

“It’s cold,” Tacko said. “I’m not used to that. Luckily I have a big jacket so I try to stay warm. But I’m gonna get used to it. It’s not going to be as bad as I thought it was gonna be.”

Because ultimately Tacko knows it’s not about the weather, fans sitting in his lap for pictures or having different body parts signed. 

It’s about basketball and how far can he take his game. 

“I just have to keep working, use my time in Maine to keep getting better,” he said. 

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Don’t miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of the Maine Red Claws vs. the Fort Wayne Mad Ants, which tips off Friday at 7:00 p.m. ET , followed by Celtics Pregame Live before the C's face the Warriors. You can also stream both games through the MyTeams App.