Celtics

Kobe Bryant offers thoughts on Kyrie Irving's next move

Kobe Bryant offers thoughts on Kyrie Irving's next move

Kobe Bryant was a star player for the Los Angeles Lakers for 20 seasons. He knows what it takes to be the face of a franchise. And recently, he offered some thoughts on the Boston Celtics' face of the franchise, star point guard, Kyrie Irving.

Bryant spoke about his relationship with Irving on Sirius XM and discussed what the next step in Irving's career will be. 

The next move for [Kyrie] is figuring out how to get the most out of the pieces around him.  That’s really hard.  And understanding how do you find an emotional connection with each player, figure out what their fears are, and help turn those fears into strengths.  And to do that you have to put time in.  And I don’t mean time in the gym.  I mean time listening.  Breakfast, lunch, dinner.  Talking to guys, listening to what they’re saying.

Bryant expanded on his thoughts later on and related it back to what he had to do to improve the Lakers in the 2009 and 2010 seasons.

It’s not about just passing them the ball and saying that’s what makes guys better.  That’s not it.  You have to figure out how to touch the right buttons to make them want to be the best versions of themselves.  How do you do that?  And that was my challenge in ’09 and 2010, I was able to figure it out.  And that’s what Kyrie has to figure out.

Bryant's advice seems sensible. The Celtics have struggled so far this season, and they enter Friday night's matchup with the Indiana Pacers as the fifth seed in the playoff picture. They haven't been a cohesive unit, and Brad Stevens has blamed the team's lack of chemistry for their struggles.

If Irving stays in Boston, he will be charged with getting the most out of his teammates, as Bryant suggested. Of course, he has been non-committal about staying in Boston, so perhaps he could try to build a team where he could get the most out of his players elsewhere.

But if Kyrie does stay, things will have to change if the Celtics want to gel and reach their full potential. And that will all start with him since he is the team's star player.

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WATCH: Ex-Celtic Isaiah Thomas gets warm welcome in Boston return

WATCH: Ex-Celtic Isaiah Thomas gets warm welcome in Boston return

BOSTON -- Isaiah Thomas was right.

The Washington Wizards guard said earlier in the week he expected to hear cheers from Celtics fans at TD Garden on Wednesday in his return to Boston.

Thomas heard those cheers and then some, receiving a strong ovation from the Boston crowd when he was introduced as Washington's starting point guard.

Thomas also caught up with old friend Marcus Smart and other Celtics teammates before the game.

The 30-year-old became a fan favorite in his two-plus seasons in Boston from 2015 to 2017, earning a place in Celtics lore with an incredible 2016-17 campaign capped by Boston's run to the 2017 Eastern Conference Finals.

Thomas has played in Boston once since leaving in the 2017 offseason but saw just seven minutes of action and didn't score in the Denver Nuggets' March 2018 game against the Celtics.

He's very much involved for the Wizards this season, though, averaging 13.2 points per game and starting in Washington's past three contests.

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.

Celtics' Gordon Hayward: 'Sucks watching' but hand injury is 'drop in the bucket'

Celtics' Gordon Hayward: 'Sucks watching' but hand injury is 'drop in the bucket'

BOSTON — Boston Celtics swingman Gordon Hayward admitted he’s frustrated to be out with an injury again but knows the fractured hand that will keep him out for the next six weeks is nothing compared to what he’s been through.

"It’s a drop in a bucket, for sure,” said Hayward, meeting with reporters before Wednesday’s game against the Washington Wizards. "Like I said, happy that it shouldn’t be that long. Obviously frustrated — it sucks watching and not being able to go out there and play, especially with the start that we’ve had. I think this time around, I’ll be able to run around, use my legs still, maintain my conditioning, which I’m very thrilled about and then be around the team, too. And kinda stay involved, which is good.”

Hayward said he’s not in a cast after surgery Monday to repair a fourth metacarpal fracture in his non-shooting hand but instead is wearing a splint that he can remove while doing exercises.

Hayward, playing like an All-Star at the start of the 2019-20 season, hesitated to put a firm timeline on when he hoped to be back. A six-week timeline has him back on the court right before Christmas.

“I think we’ll take it, as cliche as it sounds, we’ll take it day by day and week by week and it’s one of those things that, once the bone is healed, then it’s kind of how much can you tolerate and how well does my body handle with the swelling, kind of how well it takes ramping up activities and doing different basketball things,” said Hayward. "Honestly, looking at the plan that we set up today and just kind of attacking each day. Hopefully, I’ll be back sooner rather than later.”

Hayward said surgeons inserted both a pin and a plate at the fracture to both stabilize and expedite the recovery process. He will not travel at the start of Boston’s upcoming five-game trip out west and will have a follow-up with the hand surgeon in New York while waiting for clearance to travel.

Hayward appeared in good spirits despite the injury. His splint is already covered in drawings from his two oldest daughters, Charlotte and Bernadette. Despite his advice on color choices, he maintained a “Daddy’s Always Happy” face when detailing what his daughters sketched.

“Some of my favorite things: Puppies, unicorns, rainbows,” deadpanned Hayward. "I tried to get them to not use purple and go with some green but they were pretty adamant about the colors they picked. So I guess an artist is going to be an artist.”

Hayward did remain mystified just exactly how the injury occurred in the Celtics' victory in San Antonio on Saturday.

"I’ve watched the play and when you watch it in slow-motion it’s like, ‘What happened?’” said Hayward. "I don’t even think anything should have happened. Doesn’t look like it’s that bad at all.

"I think it must have been, initially, I think I must have hit [LaMarcus Aldridge with Hayward’s fingertips] or something and the force kinda just traveled through and then broke right in there. That’s my guess. I don’t know.”

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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.